By Kirell Lakhman
A New York District Judge yesterday ruled that Myriad Genetics' BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents are invalid. Below are some key points about the decision as reported by a handful of key news and specialty outlets.
Judge Robert Sweet's ruling, which found that the patents “are directed to a law of nature and were therefore improperly granted, … may lead to other challenges to gene-related patents," Bloomberg News reported yesterday.
But for the moment the decision "will not affect any patents not directly involved in the case, nor be binding on any other court, and it is highly unlikely that the USPTO will change its gene patent examination standards just because of this decision," according to a comprehensive report in the Genomic Law Report.
Indeed, "its legal effect is currently very limited," GLR said. "Another federal district judge would be free reach exactly the opposite conclusion tomorrow (if another comparable case were pending, which it isn’t). Things won’t get serious (legally) until the Federal Circuit rules, since its opinion will bind all federal courts except the Supreme Court."
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Judge Sweet's ruling "doesn't bind other federal courts, and other judges may or may not adopt the decision in similar cases."
What Judge Sweet's ruling does do is "set the stage for years of litigation to determine where the line is between what’s eligible for patents and what is not," according to Bloomberg.
The ruling, made in response to a suit filed last May by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of groups including the Association for Molecular Pathology and American College of Medical Genetics, "is sure to be appealed to a court in Washington that specializes in patent law, and most likely to the Supreme Court."
The New York Times reported yesterday that the decision "is likely to be appealed," and that "if upheld [it] could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property."
The paper added that "many in the patent field had predicted the courts would throw out the suit."
The Wall Street Journal reported that Myriad CEO Peter Meldrum said "the company will appeal."
The Times said that the case "could have far-reaching implications" and reported a widely cited figure that says roughly 20 percent of human genes have been patented. "[M]ultibillion-dollar industries have been built atop the intellectual property rights that the patents grant," the paper said.