Supreme Court: No, You Can't Patent Our DNA

But court rules that synthetic genes are fair game
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2013 10:20 AM CDT
Supreme Court: No, You Can't Patent Our DNA
This 2012 photo provided by Myriad Genetics shows packaging for their PROLARIS sample kits for assessing prostate cancer risk.   (AP Photo/Myriad Genetics)

(Newser) – Sorry, corporate America, you can't own our genes. The Supreme Court declared that unanimously today, ruling against Utah-based Myriad Genetics, which holds patents on a pair of genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. But in something of a compromise, the court ruled that while it was unconstitutional to patent "products of nature," it was fine to patent synthetic, human-designed genes, CNN reports.

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What does all this mean for you? Well, probably nothing right now, experts tell MSNBC. Patients rights groups had argued that allowing the patents gave companies like Myriad a monopoly on certain tests and fix prices. But "the patents are going to expire before any competitors could come into the field anyway," a law professor says. "This case would have been a lot more important had it been decided 10 or 12 years ago." The court has also in the past allowed techniques using natural ingredients, so while Myriad can't patent a gene, it might be able to patent its specific cancer test. (Read more DNA stories.)

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