Market Solutions to IP Law Confusion

The somewhat “unsettled” nature of certain aspects of intellectual property law is unsurprising. By definition, the discipline considers the new, the novel, the original, etc. Though the patent world seemed to struggle for a time when it came to computer-related inventions, it was no coincidence that the Copyright Act of 1976 explicitly anticipated “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed…”[1] In recent years, however, prolonged periods Continue Reading →

Why we should say “yes” to GMOs.

America is currently in the midst of a non-GMO craze. Genetically modified organisms—known as GMOs—attracted little public attention when they were first introduced into the U.S. commercial food supply in the mid-1990s. This changed in 2003, when a California natural food store launched a grassroots campaign to persuade natural food companies to reveal whether their products contain GMOs. This campaign led many organic food proponents to decry GMOs as impure, unnatural, and a threat to Continue Reading →

His last bow – CRISPR/Cas9 and possibly the last famous Interference proceeding

The patent fight over the CRISPR/Cas9 system  between Dr. Jennifer Doudna with her employer and assignee UC Berkeley on the one side and Dr. Feng Zhang with MIT and the Broad institute on the other side has gained (almost) as much attention as the Sanders vs. Clinton race. Whereas the latter will be decided no later than July this year at the DNC convention, we may have to wait much longer to know the outcome Continue Reading →

Despite controversy, new FDA guidelines permit GMO foods to remain unlabeled

These days, most foods Americans eat contain at least some elements that have been genetically modified. Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are created in laboratories using biotechnology or genetic engineering. Despite years of controversy over whether and how foods containing GMO ingredients should be labeled, FDA guidelines released this week maintain the legal status quo, under which food companies are not required to disclose GMO ingredients. Even as they change nothing, however, the new guidelines provide Continue Reading →

Interpreting the BPCIA – Is the “Patent Dance” Mandatory?

Background Biologics are a type of therapeutics derived from, or made by, the biological processes of a living organism, such as human cells, animals, microorganisms, or yeast.1 Examples of biologics include some vaccines, blood or blood components, hormones, and antibodies. Unlike standard chemical drugs, which are relatively small molecules, biologics are often large and complex molecules that are not easily produced through synthetic manufacturing pathways. Due to their production mechanism, it is difficult to create Continue Reading →

What’s At Stake in Monsanto’s Latest Legal Headache

Last month, the Public Patent Foundation (PPF) asked the Supreme Court to hear its case challenging the validity of Monsanto’s seed patents.  If this narrative sounds familiar, that’s because it is; the case again pits the PPF and farmers against the biotech giant much like the Supreme Court case last term, Bowman v. Monsanto. While Bowman addressed critical issues of patent law raised by the self-replicating nature of transgenic seeds, the current petition in Organic Continue Reading →

The Legal Implications of Individual Genome Sequencing

Many people are ancestry enthusiasts, inquiring into historical databases and family records to find out more about their ancestors and about themselves.  They might learn about hobbies they shared with previous generations, and gain information on traits or diseases that run in their families.  Some people take such research a step further, digging into their DNA to learn about their biological past. Gene sequencing used to be prohibitively expensive for individuals—the first whole genome sequencing Continue Reading →

A Patent that Self-Replicates

Does Patent Exhaustion apply to the sale of self-replicating seeds? On February 19, the Supreme Court heard the oral argument in Bowman v. Monsanto on the application of patent exhaustion to patented self-replicating seeds.  Under the doctrine of patent exhaustion, “the initial authorized sale of a patented item terminates all of the patent owner’s rights in that item.”  Monsanto holds a patent on a gene which makes plants resistant to glyphosate herbicides.  Farmers use the Continue Reading →

Can Assistive Technology Eliminate Disabilities?

Assistive technologies that enable an amputee to not only walk, but run and dance, are obviously incredible.  New prosthetic limbs simulate natural gait.  Brain-Computer Interfaces allow people who are completely paralyzed, “locked in,” to communicate. Enable Talk Gloves (only $75!) translate sign language to spoken words.  The recent trend of technological advancements is so remarkable—and accessible—that it may even, as one prominent roboticist boldly claims, largely eliminate disabilities during the 21st century. However, whether his Continue Reading →

Alternative Statutory Bases for Invalidating “Gene Patents”

The Supreme Court recently granted a writ of certiorari in the highly controversial case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad. In the coming months, the Court will determine whether the genetic material claimed by Myriad’s composition patents is patentable subject matter under Section 101 of the Patent Act. The high profile case has generated a widespread debate often framed as whether genes should be patentable. To the extent that the patentability of genetic material is Continue Reading →