We've become used to the Supreme Court avoiding major patent issues, as it tends to rule on peripheral aspects of the law or refuse such cases outright. So it's no surprise that the Supreme Court has punted in the case of LabCorp Vs. Metabolite on the question of whether medical facts can be patented. In the case, LabCorp had argued that it wasn't guilty of patent infringement by employing a therapy that relied upon a specific medical phenomenon patented by Metabolite. Unfortunately, instead of resolving this important issue, the court dismissed the case over an undisclosed technicality. In the minority, three judges seemed to grasp the gravity of the case, noting that the failure to resolve it "threatens to leave the medical profession subject to the restrictions imposed by this individual patent and others of its kind". In the meantime, the best we can hope for is that more restrictions prompt another case to wind its way through the courts.
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