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Meanwhile, In Another Court

Gene patenting isn't just a big case in the US: Australia's Full Federal Court is also considering the validity of patents held by Myriad Genetics and Genetic Technologies, a Melbourne-based firm, on isolated gene sequences associated with breast and ovarian cancers, ScienceInsider reports.

Similar to the US, one of the issues the Australian court is considering is whether isolated DNA is different than naturally occurring DNA and if it is eligible to be patented, ScienceInsider adds. A federal court found in February that the patents were valid, with the judge saying that while DNA and RNA found naturally in the cells of the body were not patentable, because isolating the sequences needs human intervention, those sequences are an invention and can be patented. Opponents, led by Sydney law firm Maurice Blackburn's Rebecca Gilsenan, are appealing the case

At the same time, ScienceInsider notes, Australia is moving to change how it handles biomedical patents. A new law, which went into effect last week, "streamlines patent and trademark procedures, raises the standards on patent eligibility, and improves trademark and copyright enforcement, it does not deal with … the patentability of genetic material," it writes.