The Curious Incident of the Supreme Court in Myriad Genetics

Dan L. Burk, UC Irvine School of Law


Often what is not said is as significant as what is said. In its recent Myriad Genetics decision, the United States Supreme Court is curiously silent about the relationship between its holding in that case and the holding in its immediately previous patent subject matter case, Mayo v. Prometheus. This reticence is all the more puzzling given that the Court initially remanded Myriad to the lower courts for reconsideration in light of the Mayo holding. The Court’s silence regarding Mayo leaves uncertain the relationship between the “products of nature” doctrine that serves as the basis for the Myriad decision, and the “laws of nature” doctrine that has been the basis of nearly all of its other subject matter cases. In this paper I assemble the clues in the laws of nature cases to suggest what the Court might have said or might still say regarding products of nature.