DNA sequences are patentable

The decision of a US Federal District Court (which ruled that isolated DNA sequences were not patentable as they were products of nature) has been overturned by the US Court of Appeal. It was a split decision and the majority held that the sequences were eligible as they had a different chemical structure from that DNA in the entire human genome. They also had a different utility as they could be used for screening and testing purposes for which the original “wild” DNA was no use. However, the entire court held that claims to “comparing” and “analysing” DNA sequences were unpatentable as abstract ideas. One basis for upholding the patent was that such patents had been issued by the US Patent Office for at least a decade and if the practice was to be reversed it was a matter for Congress, not the courts.

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