Edifying Thoughts of a Patent Watcher: The Nature of DNA
Dan L. Burk, Edifying Thoughts of a Patent Watcher: The Nature of DNA, 60 UCLA L. Rev. Discourse 92 (2013).
In the pending case Myriad Genetics v. Association for Molecular Pathology, the United States Supreme Court will consider the patentability of human genes under the “product of nature” doctrine. Patentable subject matter is generally held to encompass materials and artifacts created by humans, and not that which exists independently in nature. However, it is not clear that this is a meaningful or helpful distinction. Given on one hand that the concept of a gene is a human construct, and on the other hand that all human creations are drawn from the material environment, the question of gene patenting is better addressed as a matter of innovation policy than of imponderable labeling.