The Pros and Cons of Gene Patents
The Recorder, December 2010
3 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2011
Date Written: December 17, 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.
Keywords: Gene, Patent, Myriad, Human
JEL Classification: K1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation