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Politicizing Patents - Patenting Biotechnology in the Wake of Section 33, Prometheus, and CLS Bank
Articles in Law Reviews & Journals
  • Jonathan R. K. Stroud, American University Washington College of Law
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
7-25-2012
Abstract
Tucked into the America Invents Act is the first statutory exemption for any patentable subject matter. Section 33 renders unpatentable all claims “encompassing a human being.” By recognizing a vague subject matter – exception for human beings despite the fact that internal policies had long militated against such patent claims, Congress has politicized the patent law to an unheard-of degree. While textually consistent with internal USPTO policy, the passage of § 33 should not be seen as an invitation to litigators to expand § 101 unpatentable-subject-matter challenges to validity by including arguments that medical methods, genetic tests, biological chimeras, or emerging cell and tissue therapies are now unpatentable, particularly in light of the recent Prometheus Supreme Court decision. The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in CLS Bank undercuts this argument. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court have both long held, living subject matter is a valuable part of the United States’ biotechnology industry. This exception is limited to only those patents that encompass an entire human being, thus exempting patents on genetic modifications to cells, tissues, organs, bones, genes, zygotes, and treatments. Only then can we ensure innovation, certainty, and profitability in the lucrative and promising area of biotechnology, ensure that the United States remains competitive in the international market, and recognize that it is not the province of the Patent and Trademark Office or the patent laws to be embroiled in a political conflict that is irrelevant to innovation.
Citation Information
Jonathan R. K. Stroud. "Politicizing Patents - Patenting Biotechnology in the Wake of Section 33, Prometheus, and CLS Bank" (2012)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jonathan_stroud/3/