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PTO to continue granting gene patents

November 2, 2010 12:23 AM UTC

A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office official told BioCentury that the office would not change its policy of considering isolated DNA claims as eligible for patenting unless the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit directs it to do so despite the U.S. Department of Justice saying such patent claims should be invalid. The PTO "will maintain the status quo relative to its examination of gene patents pending the resolution of" Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. PTO, et al. by the CAFC, according to Peter Pappas, chief communications officer and senior advisor to the under secretary and director of the PTO.

Pappas' comments came on the heels of an amicus brief for the U.S. government filed on Friday by the DoJ, which concluded that "claims encompassing isolated human genomic DNA are invalid." The DoJ acknowledged that its stance "is contrary to longstanding practice" of the PTO as well as government agencies, like the NIH, which have sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA. The DoJ did say that patent claims to "cDNAs and similar man-made constructs" should be eligible for patenting. ...