The Pros and Cons of Gene Patents

Chester S. Chuang

Golden Gate University - School of Law

Denys T. Lau

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Pharmacy Administration

December 17, 2010

The Recorder, December 2010

The debate over human gene patents was recently reignited by Federal District Court Judge Robert Sweet when he found isolated human gene sequences unpatentable in Association for Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 702 F.Supp.2d 181 (S.D.N.Y. March 29, 2010). An appeal of the decision is pending, and in October, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that such gene sequences should not be patentable, contradicting long standing practices of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Given the potent impact of a possible gene patent ban on gene-based medical therapies and the biotechnology industry at large, we need to carefully consider the arguments for and against patenting human genes. Unfortunately, much of the current legal debate has centered on technical aspects of patent law doctrine and not the significant policy arguments that also need to be resolved. It is therefore important to evaluate the issue in a fuller context, taking into account healthcare access, scientific research, and ethical concerns.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 3

Keywords: Gene, Patent, Myriad, Human

JEL Classification: K1

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Date posted: March 23, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Chuang, Chester S. and Lau, Denys T., The Pros and Cons of Gene Patents (December 17, 2010). The Recorder, December 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1792625

Contact Information

Chester S. Chuang (Contact Author)
Golden Gate University - School of Law ( email )
536 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States
415-442-6534 (Phone)
Denys T. Lau
University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Pharmacy Administration ( email )
United States
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