This week, the US Southern District Court of New York ruled that several patents on BRCA genes held by Myriad Genetics of Utah were invalid. The validity of the patents had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation. In his decision, Judge Robert Sweet ruled that the DNA sequences involved were "products of nature" and, thus, not patentable. Biotechnology industry lawyers have long maintained that the act of isolating and sequencing a section of genetic code makes it no longer a natural product and therefore eligible for patent protection. Although Myriad is expected to appeal the ruling -- and some industry observers say they expect this week's ruling to be overturned on appeal -- the decision shook up the biotechnology industry. We'll talk about the case, and about future prospects for genetic patents.
Produced by Annette Heist, Senior Producer