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Australia Chimes In on Gene Patents

Judge Sweet's words have been heard all the way in Australia. Lawyers in the land down under are suing four biotech companies, including Genetic Technologies in Australia and Myriad Genetics in the US to challenge the validity of their gene patents, says Life Scientist blogger Tim Dean. The group who filed the suit — a cancer advocacy group, a law firm, and a breast cancer patient from Brisbane — say that isolating a gene shouldn't constitute "an invention," Dean says, which is much the same argument that got Myriad's patents in the US overturned. In 2008, Genetic Technologies demanded that several Australian labs stop performing a test for BRCA1 and BRCA2, though the company later withdrew that demand. Dean writes that this case will be heard by the Australian Federal Court.

Bruce Lehr, at the Big Red Biotech Blog, says that given the uncertainty over whether Sweet's ruling in the US will even survive an appeal, he is surprised to see other courts go to litigation so soon. "The ruling here will be intriguing and likely will continue the anti-gene patent wave or stem the tide," Lehr says.

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