Cases & Deals

Myriad Genetics defends against landmark attack by ACLU on patentability of human genes

Clients Myriad Genetics, Inc.

Jones Day represents Myriad Genetics, Inc. and the University of Utah Research Foundation in a declaratory judgment case brought by the ACLU on behalf of several plaintiffs challenging the validity and constitutionality of patents concerning the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations in these genes are correlated with breast and ovarian cancer, and the testing for these mutations has helped thousands of women get information that enabled them to make important choices and take steps to reduce their risk of cancer. The inventors of the patents in issue discovered and isolated the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, identified specific gene mutations, and engineered diagnostic tests for detecting these mutations in patients. Plaintiffs are challenging the validity and constitutionality of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents, and more generally the idea of patents with respect to genes, based on the argument that genes are products of nature that cannot be patented. This is a pending high visibility litigation expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court involving the issue of whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is misinterpreting Supreme Court precedent by issuing patents on human genes. Myriad Genetics is the exclusive licensee of the several challenged patents covering the BRAC1 and BRAC2 genes.

Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al., Civil Action No. 09-4515 (RWS) (S.D. N.Y.)