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Quote of the Day - Whatever comes out of the Patent Office can impact you. Some of the patents are very broad, some are narrow. - Bradley Wright
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Can You Patent What Occurs Naturally?

What do vitamins have to do with patent law?  They may be the undoing of a significant number of patents, depending on how the US Supreme Court views the issues presented by B Vitamins.  Metabolite Laboratories holds a patent on tests used to identify B Vitamin deficiencies and sued a company allegedly infringing that patent.

But that's not news.  What the Supreme Court did in response, however, is.

The Court asked the Solicitor General to file a brief and advise it whether Metabolite patented a law of nature, natural phenomenon or abstract idea, none of which are eligible to be patented.  The Solicitor General dodged the question and replied that since the issue hadn't been raised below, this case wasn't the one to properly address it.  

Not a good response to the highest court in the land.  I haven't argued a case before the US Supreme Court yet, but every time I've argued before an appellate court, the judges want a direct answer to a direct question, and I'm willing to bet the justices aren't satisfied with the Solicitor General. 

According to the Associated Press article linked above by Andrew Bridges, Metabloite claims that "[t]he two-step method covered by patent No. 4,940,658 is straightforward:  The level of an amino acid called homocysteine is measured in a patient's blood or urine and, if elevated, it can be correlated with a deficiency of folic acid, or B12."

What may not be so straightforward, however, is whether the patent office can issue a patent on what occurs naturally.  Then again, however, I have a copyright on the words in this blog, and they (hopefully) come pretty naturally. 

MIPTC will be watching and reporting further on this one. 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, March 19, 2006 at 23:37 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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