Constitutional Challenge to Gene Patents Survives Motion to Dismiss
By Davis Doherty – Edited by Jad Mills
Assn. for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. USPTO, et al., Case no. 09-CV-4514 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by Patent Baristas)
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claim that patents on a human gene violate the First Amendment and Article I of the Constitution for jurisdictional issues, lack of standing, and failure to state a claim.
District Judge Sweet found that the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims challenging the validity of Myriad Genetics’ gene patents provided subject matter jurisdiction and standing to sue the United States Patent and Trademark Office because of the lack of available statutory remedies. The plaintiffs claim that Myriad’s patents are inappropriate because they cover “products of nature”, and seek invalidation of the patents under the Constitution of the United States. Judge Sweet held that these claims met the stricter pleading standards recently announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). In so holding, the court noted the “novel circumstances presented by this action against the USPTO”: The Patent and Trade Office is generally immune from suit due to the availability of statutory remedies for claims arising from patents. Such remedies do not provide for constitutional claims.
Ars Technica provides a brief overview of the case. The ACLU, who represents the plaintiffs, writes in support of the decision. Patent Baristas put forward a more skeptical view of the plaintiffs’ prospects. Patent Docs features a longer analysis of the decision. (more…)