Intended for healthcare professionals


Genes can’t be patented, rules Supreme Court

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3907
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

In a unanimous decision the US Supreme Court ruled on 13 June that naturally occurring DNA segments cannot be patented because they are products of nature and not an act of invention.

For the past 30 years it has been standard practice for the US Patent Office to issue patents on human genes. The decision would seem to overturn that practice.

In the same decision, however, the Supreme Court found that another important tool of biotechnology, complementary DNA, could be patented because these molecules are not naturally occurring.

The case involved a challenge to the patent …

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