Supreme Court debates whether “snipping” human genes merits a patent

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-04-22

The word of the day at the Supreme Court on Monday was "snip." The biotech company Myriad Genetics is defending patents that give it exclusive control over two genes linked to breast cancer. Critics have argued that Myriad merely "snipped" the genes from the human genome, and that this no more deserves patent protection than "snipping" a leaf from a plant or removing a liver from a human body.

"Here, what's involved is snipping," Chief Justice John Roberts said to Myriad's lawyer, Gregory Castanias. "You've got the thing there and you snip off the top and you snip off the bottom and there you've got it."

"You wouldn't even know where to snip until the Myriad invention," Castanias countered.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments