By Dorothy Du
Federal Circuit Reconsiders Myriad’s Gene Patents on Remand
This past Friday, July 20, the Federal Circuit heard 45 minutes of oral arguments for Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad on remand on whether isolated breast cancer genes are unpatentable products of nature, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. A year ago, JOLT Digest reported on the Federal Circuit’s decision to uphold the patent eligibility of isolated DNA. However, following a Supreme Court decision to strike down a diagnostic patent as an unpatentable law of nature in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Labs., a case JOLT Digest summarized, Myriad was remanded to the Federal Circuit. Reuters reports that at Friday’s oral arguments, Myriad attorney Greg Castanias compared isolating the patented genes to creating a baseball bat out of a tree, while opposing counsel for the USTPO compared the process to mining coal from the ground. According to Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the panel of judges hearing the arguments appeared to remain steadfast in their original positions on the patents. Judges Lourie and Moore made comments expressing their approval of Myriad’s patents, while Judge Bryson, who dissented in the original ruling, reiterated his belief that gene sequences are unpatentable products of nature. The oral arguments can be heard at the website of the Federal Circuit.
Europe to Approve Its First Gene Therapy
According to Wall Street Journal Health Blog, the European Union’s European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) has recommended the approval of a gene therapy to treat a rare genetic disorder. The European Commission ordinarily follows the EMA’s recommendations. An approval would be groundbreaking, according to the New York Times, because it would be the first approval of a gene therapy in the Western world; China approved a gene therapy for cancer back in 2003. Gene therapy theoretically works by supplying the body with normal copies of defective genes, thereby targeting diseases at their source. Followers of this exciting technology, however, have been disappointed by experimental results until now. Creating successful gene therapies has been a struggle because of challenges associated with inserting the genes safely and preventing immune reactions to the inserted genes, reports the AP. The New York Times explains that the gene therapy awaiting approval is called Glybera, is manufactured by uniQure, and treats lipoprotein lipase deficiency, a condition caused by a mutation that prevents patients from producing an enzyme that breaks down fat particles in the blood.
ITC Ban on Importing Motorola’s Android Products Takes Effect
An International Trade Commission (“ITC”) exclusion order banning the importation into the United States of Motorola Android devices took effect this past Wednesday, July 25, reports Ars Technica. The order issued two months ago, pursuant to the ITC’s ruling that 18 Motorola Mobility products infringed a Microsoft patent related to Microsoft’s Exchange Active Sync technology, which allows users to accept invitations and add events to their Google calendar. David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, has stated that “Microsoft brought this case only after Motorola stopped licensing our intellectual property but continued to use our inventions in its products,” PC Magazine reports. CNET notes that Microsoft has been “proactive” in pursuing licensing deals, currently receiving royalties from 70 percent of Android vendors. Motorola has promised users that it will keep its Android products on the U.S. market without infringing Microsoft’s patent, but has not yet disclosed how. Ars Technica and CNET speculate that Motorola will either remove or tweak the infringing technology in order to render the Android products non-infringing. Motorola has also filed an appeal of the ITC ban, according to the Seattle Times.