It's been just over a year since a district court judge surprised much of the world
by saying that you could not patent genes. This was a huge, and very smart ruling, but it certainly upset those who had been patenting genes (or making money off of those patenting genes) for many years. They insisted that this simply couldn't be true at all, and tried to hide behind claims that they weren't really
patenting genes at all, but merely the process to separate out the genes. To hear them talk about it, the judge's initial ruling was so far out of left field that the appeals court couldn't possibly uphold it. Well, we'll soon find out. The case against Myriad Genetics and its patenting of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
has finally been heard by the Appeals Court, and we're waiting to see if they recognize the absurdity of patenting genes... or if they figure out some way to twist the law (which only allows patents on things made by humans...) into keeping gene patents around. Of course, whoever wins, this case will be appealed to the Supreme Court, who very well may want to weigh in. What's really sad is that a big part of the argument by those who want the lower court ruling overturned is that it will "upset" an entire industry. The real problem, of course, is that an entire industry was built up around these highly questionable patents in the first place.