Myriad Genetics Loses Again: Court Refuses To Grant Preliminary Injunction Against Rival Genetic Testing Company

from the battling-cancer dept

In June last year we reported on a major ruling from the Supreme Court, which effectively said that you can't patent genes. That ripped a huge hole in Myriad Genetics' monopoly on testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that are linked to breast cancer, but that didn't stop it suing some of the new entrants to this market. In particular, it asked a federal judge in Utah to order one of them, Ambry Genetics, to stop providing its gene testing service for those genes. The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief opposing Myriad's motion, together with a number of other organizations. Here's the latest development in the case:

Yesterday, a federal district court judge in Utah rejected Myriad's motion. Judge Shelby found that Myriad had failed to establish that it was likely to win its lawsuit against Ambry, because there are substantial questions about whether Myriad's patent claims improperly monopolize products of nature, laws of nature, and abstract ideas.

While Myriad's lawsuits can proceed -- for now -- patients continue to have the right to choose other BRCA genetic testing providers. They can obtain a second opinion before making life-changing medical decisions. And they can decide which laboratory will have their data.
That last point is important. As the ACLU explains:
Myriad has used its patents over the genes to create the largest database in the world about BRCA genetic mutations and their medical significance and refuses to share that information with the scientific community.
That underlines another huge problem with gene patents: they allow monopoly-holders to lock up key medical information that could have been used by researchers around the world to advance knowledge and come up with new treatments. Far from accelerating innovation, as apologists for patents like to claim, they throw huge roadblocks in its way. It's yet another reason why the Supreme Court's decision to strike down gene patents should be celebrated.

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Filed Under: brca, brca1, brca2, dna, gene patents, genetic testing, injunction, patents
Companies: ambry, myriad genetics

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  1. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Mar 2014 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm just fine with protecting shareholders from liability. I don't want to lose my house and my car because the guy who manages my 401(k) thought that some shares of EvilCorp, Inc. would improve my retirement.

    But that's a far cry from what people object to when they talk about corporate personhood. It's about corporations making claims that they have the same legal rights as you and me, and should. It's about corporations that have vastly larger resources at their disposal than any individual person being able to use them indiscriminately to work against the interests of actual people, such as by spending millions to influence elections and government regulations.

    It's about abusing the notion of protection from liability to protect not only shareholders, but the actual decision makers who should be held liable. I don't buy that "Employees can say they were just doing their job, following orders. These people aren't responsible, the corporation did it." That's a bunch of crap. It wasn't valid at Nuremburg, and it shouldn't be valid at Monsanto, Microsoft or Goldman Sachs. If you do something that's obviously evil and hurt lots of people, it doesn't matter why you did it, you did something evil and you deserve to be smacked down by the long arm of the law.

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