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Supreme Court to consider intellectual property rights to genes

Many New Jersey business owners understand the value and importance of their intellectual property. Protecting business concepts, ideas and products is often key to the success of a business in today’s aggressive marketplace. As this blog has highlighted many times in the past, businesses are often forced to litigate issues surrounding intellectual property rights in order to fully protect these rights.

Soon, the United States Supreme Court will hear a case about whether to protect patents covering the human genome code. Under current laws, patents are given to those people and companies that discover a gene for a specific useful purpose. For example, if a company discovers the gene that could be used as the cause or cure for a specific type of cancer, it could be patented. According to a recent study, using these rules almost 100 percent of the human genome code is protected intellectual property.

Therefore, if the Supreme Court chooses to uphold these patents, this means that most research of human DNA, genes or other genetic diseases by doctors or scientists could potentially be an infringement on the patent holder’s intellectual property rights. In this case, the prevention, treatment and detection of certain medical issues could be prevented. Some have argued that patents should not be allowed on things, like the genome, that naturally occur.

On the other hand, courts have the duty to uphold intellectual property rights. Under federal laws, people are rewarded for their ingenuity and given the exclusive right to profit from their ideas, discoveries and inventions. Businesses often need to aggressively protect these rights from other businesses that want to make money their ideas. While litigation can sometimes be avoided, it is often the best way for businesses to protect their intellectual property rights.

Source: Clarksville Online, “You Don’t “Own” Your Own Genes,” March 28, 2013

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