In the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics decision, the Supreme Court unanimously held that naturally occurring DNA sequences are “products of nature” and therefore cannot be patented. “The Court’s holding represents a significant shift form the status quo,” says Kevin Emerson Collins, JD, patent law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “It reverses both the lower court and twenty years of precedent at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion in Bowman v. Monsanto holds that farmers who lawfully obtain Monsanto’s patented, genetically modified soybeans do not have a right to plant those soybeans and grow a new crop of soybeans without Monsanto’s permission. “The Court closed a potential loophole in Monsanto’s long-standing business model, prevents Monsanto’s customers from setting up ‘farm-factories’ for producing soybeans that could be sold in competition with Monsanto’s soybeans, and it enables Monsanto to continue to earn a reasonable profit on its patented technology,” says Kevin Collins, JD, patent law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis
On April 15, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, a case that could answer the question, “Under what conditions, if any, are isolated human genes patentable?” Kevin Emerson Collins, JD, patent law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, believes that layered uncertainties make this case an unusually difficult case in which to predict the outcome.
Washington University in St. Louis School of Law is offering a Washington, D.C., area intellectual property field placement opportunity for students pursuing a career focused on the preparation, filing and prosecution of patent applications. Students in the externship will work at the law firm of Oliff & Berridge in Alexandria, Va., for one semester. “Our students will be expected to perform as a first-year associate,” says David Deal, JD, director of WULAW’s Intellectual Property & Technology Law Program and co-director of the Intellectual Property and Nonprofit Organizations Legal Clinic at WULAW. This program is designed to immerse WULAW students in a law firm environment and facilitate the transition from law students to competent and productive practitioners.
Patent and copyright law are stifling innovation and threatening the global economy according to two economists at Washington University in St. Louis in a new book, Against Intellectual Monopoly. Professors Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine call for abolishing the current patent and copyright system in order to unleash innovations necessary to reverse the current recession and rescue the economy. The professors discuss their stand against intellectual property protections in a video and news release linked here.
Reversing the longstanding case law would give undue windfall to opportunistic third parties, says Kieff.The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing Quanta v. LG, a case that could determine the future direction of patent law. “This case is key to ensuring that patent law develops in a way that best promotes innovation and competition,” says F. Scott Kieff, J.D., professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. Kieff and colleagues have filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of LG, arguing that under contract law the patent holder had a right to sue a downstream purchaser. Kieff will be closely following this case and is available for comment.
David Kilper / WUSTL PhotoThreat of injunctions can be beneficial in cases like eBay and BlackBerry, says WUSTL expert F. Scott Kieff.The threat of an injunction to protect patented technology, as seen in eBay v. MercExchange, is what drives infringers and patentees to strike deals — sometimes on the steps of the courthouse — because shutting down the business would lose money for both sides, says F. Scott Kieff, J.D., an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. These deals, he points out, are what drive innovation. More…