Supreme Court says no to DNA patents on ‘nature’

KWIKA partner Jonathan Steinsapir was quoted by Bloomberg’s Bureau of National Affairs in Tony Dutra’s piece about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision that invalidates several thousand patents dealing with the isolation of DNA.

The gist of the decision is that simply isolating certain genes without changing them in some way is not a patentable process.  To be eligible for a patent, an inventor must change the DNA in some way, resulting in “complementary DNA,” or cDNA for short.  However, the Court left the door open for synthetic versions of genes, indicating they would be new creations and therefore eligible for registration.

Reactions from lawyers and other experts were wide-ranging, with many believing it will take specific challenges in the form of new cases to clarify the specific application of the ruling.  Jonathan was one who didn’t hold back with his comments:

“District judges deal with more complicated technology than what was involved here every day, without the benefit of amicus briefs from the finest lawyers and scholars in the world, moreover.  What message does this send to district judges regarding the effort they should put into such cases?  What message does this send to the public regarding the legitimacy of patent verdicts based on lay juries’ decisions concerning such technology?”