Local group backs Myriad on patents

A local legal group threw its support behind Utah-based Myriad Genetics yesterday, saying isolated DNA structures, if determined to be protected under patent law, will result in big benefits to biotech and life sciences companies worldwide.

A landmark case, Association for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics Inc., is expected to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The case focuses on patents related to two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

“If the Supreme Court says this kind of invention is patentable, the biotech industry breathes a sigh of relief and goes about their business and it creates jobs and everyone in town will be happy,” said Erik Belt, a patent attorney with McCarter & English in Boston representing the Boston Patent Law Association.

In an amicus brief, the BPLA urged the Supreme Court to redefine its question of whether human genes are patentable, and instead ask if isolated DNA structures or nucleic acid structures actually claimed in the patents are valid.

Last summer, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Myriad, saying the company could patent isolated genes accounting for most hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancers.



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