Genes can be patented: court upholds ruling

In February 2013 the court ruled that patents on breast cancer genes were valid because the method of isolating the gene created something new and could therefore be patented.

A lawsuit against the patents, owned by US firm Myriad Genetics, was spearheaded by Cancer Voices Australia, which claimed, under the Statute of Monopolies, that the company had an unfair monopoly on a naturally occurring gene.

But today the full bench of the court upheld its ruling, stating that the product – the isolated nucleic acid codings for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations – despite being a “product of nature” has resulted in an “artificially created state of affairs for economic benefit” and is therefore patentable. 

Patent lawyer and adjunct professor in the School of Law at Murdoch University, Luigi Palombi, emphatically objected to the decision saying the ruling ignored common sense and was not good policy.