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.
That last point is important. As the ACLU explains:
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.
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.