Gene Patents in Canada: Is There a New Legal Landscape?
Molecular Diagnosis & Therapy, 2017 Dec 1, doi: 10.1007/s40291-017-0313-9. [Epub ahead of print]
Posted: 28 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 18, 2017
In 2016, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) announced the settlement of its patent lawsuit against US-based Transgenomic, Inc. At issue in the case was CHEO's ability to test for gene mutations associated with long QT syndrome (LQTS) that are described in Transgenomic's patents. CHEO challenged the patents as invalid, and Transgenomic ultimately agreed to license them on a royalty-free basis to CHEO and other healthcare institutions for LQTS testing and research. While widely celebrated in the media, the ethical rhetoric surrounding the settlement has at times obscured the practical and legal context in which it was made and will operate. Here, we provide a nuanced account of the events surrounding the settlement and its implications for research and clinical care. Although the settlement is remarkable for the transparency of its terms and its inclusion of a license intended to benefit unaffiliated test providers, we conclude that another significant implication of the settlement may be its elimination of the opportunity to clarify an increasingly confused area of Canadian law against a backdrop of continued international controversy surrounding the patenting of genes and gene-based diagnostic and therapeutic methods.
Keywords: patent law, gene patents, diagnostics, canadian law
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