The U.S. Department of Justice elicited some hand-wringing last week when it argued in a high-profile gene patent lawsuit that isolated genomic DNA should not be eligible for patenting. But while DoJ's amicus brief raised fears of wholesale invalidation of existing patents, the consensus of patent specialists who spoke with BioCentury is that the real-world impact on drugs and molecular diagnostics is not likely to amount to much.

The case before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al., is meant to answer whether DNA sequences and the act of analyzing and comparing genes are eligible for patenting under Section 101 of the U.S. Patent Act.