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Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 13, 2013
Case #: 12-398
Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined, and in which Scalia, J., joined in part. Scalia, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-398_8njq.pdf

Patents: A naturally occurring segment of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is not patent eligible under 35 U. S. C. ยง101. However, Non-natural occurring segments are patent eligible.

Respondent discovered the location and sequence of genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, in which mutations could increase the risk of cancer. Respondents sought and obtained a number of patents. The patents would, if valid, give Respondent the exclusive right to isolate an individual’s BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Additionally, the patents would give Respondents the exclusive right to synthetically create BRCA cDNA.  

The District Court granted summary judgment to Petitioners. The Federal Circuit reversed, vacated, and remanded the case. The supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Court held that Respondents did not create or alter the genetic information encoded in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes thus making them naturally occurring. A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated. However, cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring.