interesting snippets include
NIH holding 4 gene patents (hmmm I wonder what are those.. )
For years, the U.S. Patent Office has taken the position that extracted genes, or “isolated DNA,” can be patented. And, in fact, it has issued thousands of patents on human genes, with perhaps one of every five human genes now under patent. Patent rights to a gene, of course, give the owner the exclusive right to study, test and experiment on the gene to see how its natural characteristics work.
It has been more than 20 years since the Patnet Office began approving patents for human genes in the form of “isolated” DNA. Prior to that, the Office had issued patents for synthetic DNA, but then moved on to grant monopoly rights on the natural material when extracted directly from the body and not modified. The Obama Administration, in the brief it filed late Fridiay in the Federal Circuit, is not challenging patents on synthetic DNA, or on the process of extracting DNA, but only on unmodified genes themselves.
The Patent Office’s long-running approach to genetic patents was challenged in a lawsuit filed in May 2009 by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation, contending that locking up genes in the monopoly rights of a patent would inhibit research by other scientists on diseases that might be flagged by the coding or mutations of the genes. The lawsuit targeted both the Patent Office and Myriad Genetics, specifically because of patents that company was issued on human genes that have been labeled “BRCA1″ and “BRCA2.’ Mutations of those two genes are associted with significantly higher risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. .....
"U.S. government is actually the co-owner of four of the seven patents that are involved in the case. It has granted Myriad an exclusive license under those patents — contrary, it said, to NIH’s usual practice of not granting exclusive licenses under DNA patents for “diagnostic applications.” In the past, NIH and other government agencies have sought and obtained patents for human genes in the form of “isolated genomic DNA,” according to the brief.
The brief did not say which claims under the four patents co-owned by NIH would be invalid under its theory of patentability."