The Myriad Decision and Patented Innovation in the Biotech Industry

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On June 13, the Supreme Court decided ACLU v. Myriad Technologies, one of the more important patent cases of the October 2012 Term. In its unanimous decision, the Court held that isolated DNA in the laboratory is not patentable, but that synthesized versions of DNA and the methods for identifying DNA are patentable. Some in the biotech industry breathed a sigh of relief when the decision came down given widespread concern that the Supreme Court would reject all DNA-related patents. Although the Court appeared to take a middle-road position, it did overturn over a century of established patent doctrine that isolated biological material, such as DNA, falls within the legal definition a patentable “composition of matter. The biotech industry expends hundreds of millions of dollars to identify and isolate DNA and other biological material, productive labors creating the breakthrough medical treatments that are a commonplace feature of the healthcare industry of the last thirty years. The implications of the Myriad decision are profound, both for the biotech industry and for millions of people who benefit from lifesaving medical technology today. On this previously recorded conference call, our panel of experts discuss the Myriad decision and its implications for patented innovation in the biotech industry.