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A case challenging a patent on a human gene is now pending at the Supreme Court, and the Court will announce next Tuesday, February 21 if it will review the lower court decision that a human gene is eligible for patenting. The case was filed by scientists, doctors and cancer patients (represented by the American Civil Liberties Union).

What will this mean to patients, medical research and innovation and the biotech industry?

Phone in to hear an objective analysis of the arguments being advanced at the Supreme Court, and observations on the importance of this case to the industry and to the development of medical innovations. The phone-in press briefing will take place this Friday, February 17, 2012 at 11:00 am EST, conducted by the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA).

The case, The Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., No. 11-725, is important not only for the parties involved, but also for the entire biotech industry as it addresses fundamental issues of the patent system on which that industry and medical research depend.

If you would like to participate in the press briefing, please register at

AIPLA has created a Resource Page with information relating to this case including:

•    Summary of District Court oral argument
•    District Court opinion (156 pages)
•    Summary of District Court decision
•    Summary of Federal Circuit oral argument
•    AIPLA Amicus Brief in Federal Circuit
•    Summary of Federal Circuit decision
•    Federal Circuit opinion
•    Supreme Court Petitioner's Brief
•    Supreme Court Respondent's Brief

If you are unable to attend the press briefing, but would like to speak to someone at AIPLA about the case, please contact Lorri Ragan at or 703-412-1308.

The plaintiffs have argued that the patents in this case are improper because they consider a gene to be a “product of nature,” which the Supreme Court has categorically excluded from patent eligibility.

The defendants have argued that the subject matter is not a product of nature because it is extracted and isolated from the human body for use in diagnostic testing. They contend, rather, that it is a product of human innovation that is “markedly different” from the gene found in the human body.

The law allows patents for new, non-obvious and useful machines, manufactured items, processes, or compositions of matter. This forms the basis of most patent challenges which question the merits of a particular patent and whether the claimed invention meets these requirements.  However, the Supreme Court has added the subject matter exclusions to categorically bar patents that claim natural phenomena and abstract ideas.

This case is directed not just at the particular patent here but at all inventions of this type as categorically excluded subject matter. The case has the potential to erase not only this patent but thousands of others that the Patent and Trademark Office has issued for years and on which the biotech industry depends.

AIPLA is a national bar association of approximately 16,000 members engaged in private and corporate practice, in government service, and in the academic community. AIPLA represents a wide and diverse spectrum of individuals, companies, and institutions involved directly and indirectly in the practice of patent, trademark, copyright, and unfair competition law, as well as other fields of law affecting intellectual property. AIPLA members represent both owners and users of intellectual property.