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Appeals Court Upholds Unpatentability of 23andMe IP

NEW YORK — An appeals court on Friday upheld an earlier ruling that found a method for identifying relatives developed by 23andMe is not patentable, marking the latest development in the company's legal battle with rival genetic ancestry testing firm

In 2018, 23andMe sued Lehi, Utah-based in a federal district court for, among other things, infringement of one of its patents — No. 8,463,554 — that describes a method of analyzing "identical by descent" regions of the genome and determining the degree to which two people in a database are related. 

In August of that year, the court found that the claims in the '554 patent are patent-ineligible because they do not relate to any "inventive, unconventional technique" related to their discovery or application. 

While Mountain View, California-based 23andMe appealed the decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last week affirmed the lower court ruling.