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Supreme Court Strikes Down Human Gene Patents

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The Supreme Court said human genes isolated by scientists may not be patented, ruling unanimously today in a dispute weighing intellectual property associated with genes known to detect early signs of breast and ovarian cancer.

The dispute concerned a 2009 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed among other things the First Amendment was at stake because the patents are so broad they barred scientists from examining and comparing the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The patents issued more than a decade ago covered any new scientific methods of looking at these human genes that might be developed by others.

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