Following close on the heels of last week’s controversial decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, the United States Supreme Court sent another hotly contested biotech case back down for further consideration by a lower federal court. In Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to the parties in the Myriad case, vacated the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and then promptly remanded the case to the Federal Circuit for reconsideration in accordance with the Supreme Court’s March 20th decision in the Mayo case, which held that a diagnostic method claim that simply recites a law of nature is unpatentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101.
How the Federal Circuit applies the Mayo case to Myriad’s claims on isolated gene sequences will be of great interest to the biotechnology community. The Federal Circuit’s treatment of the Myriad claims on remand will provide better guidance on how to ensure that biotechnology patent claims survive future patentability challenges. Both Mayo and Myriad will undoubtedly have long-term ramifications in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Any potentially affected or interested parties should continue to follow the developments in this area, but it seems this may be just the beginning of a much longer conversation.
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