Ronald Bailey on Patients, Patents, and the Supreme Court



Should human genes be patentable? That's the central question in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The lawsuit was organized by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several professional organizations that have long opposed such patents, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been granting since the 1980s. Patent law is arcane, and arguments about it can sound a lot like haggling over the number of angels that can dance on the head of pin. But in this case, writes Ronald Bailey, it is tens of billions of dollars in research, products, and profits that are doing the dancing.