UK Judges Think US Makes It Too Hard To Get Patents, Lower Patentability Bar To Show How It's Done

from the you-mean-we-need-even-more? dept

The US patent system famously covers "anything under the sun that is made by man," and is generally regarded as being more "patent friendly" than other jurisdictions around the world. So it comes as something of a surprise to hear of the UK out-doing the US is this respect:
In a unanimous decision, the [UK Supreme] court determined that US utility doctrine creates an unduly high bar of patentability.
The reasoning or rather lack of it is just as surprising:
Thus, rather than requiring proof of specific, credible, and substantial utility at the time of filing, the UK court agreed that HGS's genetic sequence coding for Neutrokine-α was patentable even though there was no known use of the protein at the time the patent application was filing. The patent did not reveal how the protein "could be used to solve any particular problem" nor did it identify "any disease or condition which it could be used to diagnose or treat."
It's bad enough that naturally-occurring genomic sequences are being patented at all sequences that certainly weren't invented by anyone. But allowing those patents without even requiring "proof of specific, credible, and substantial utility at the time of filing" is just insane: it will open the floodgates for even more speculative filings on DNA sequences in the hope that someone, someday will come up with a use for them. Except that if they did, they'd presumably be hit with a patent infringement suit. So how does that promote innovation?

The other danger, of course, is that the US judges might feel that their honor is a stake, and lower the US patentability bar even further to undercut those presumptuous British lords...

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

Filed Under: gene patents, patents, uk, us


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  1. icon
    A Guy (profile), 14 Nov 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Re:

    My thought exactly +1

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