U.S. Supreme Court Adopts Firm's Arguments in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Decision

On June 13, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, No. 12-398, concluding that isolated fragments of genomic DNA are naturally occurring and thus are not patent eligible, while complementary DNA (cDNA) is not a product of nature and thus is patent eligible. The arguments adopted by the court mirror those put forth in an amicus brief previously filed by WSGR partners Gideon Schor and Vern Norviel on behalf of Dr. Eric Lander, one of the world's leading genomics researchers and the president of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, in the case. At oral argument, three of the Justices referred repeatedly to WSGR's brief in questioning Myriad's counsel.

The case raised the issue of whether human genes in general, and isolated DNA fragments in particular, are patent-eligible compositions of matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. As WSGR suspected, the test that was applied to decide the issue was whether isolated DNA fragments are found in nature. The amicus brief prepared by the firm's attorneys cited numerous scientific studies and articles to show that, contrary to the holding of the Federal Circuit, isolated fragments of genomic DNA are indeed found in nature and therefore are not patent eligible, whereas isolated cDNA fragments are not found in nature and therefore are patent eligible.

For more information, please see the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.