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Federal Judge’s Ruling Invalidates High-Profile U. of Utah Gene Patents

A federal judge in New York on Monday invalidated patents held by the University of Utah Research Foundation that cover ways of identifying two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The judge said the patents, which the university has licensed commercially to Myriad Genetics Inc., were “improperly granted” because identifying the genes was an “abstract mental process” and, as such, ineligible for patenting. The genes are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

According to BusinessWeek, the groups that brought the patent challenge—including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Public Patent Foundation, the Association for Molecular Pathology, and the American College of Medical Genetics—said that the patents “consist essentially of looking at genes.” The decision, which is likely to be appealed, could encourage challenges to other gene patents. It can be downloaded from the ACLU’s Web site.

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