Judge Robert W. Sweet has turned the biotech patent industry into turmoil.
See: After Patent on Genes Is Invalidated, Taking Stock By ANDREW POLLACK, March 30, 2010
Although patents are not granted on things found in nature, the DNA being patented had long been considered a chemical that was isolated from, and different from, what was found in nature.
But Judge Sweet ruled that the distinguishing feature of DNA is its information content, its conveyance of the genetic code. And in that regard, he wrote, the isolated DNA “is not markedly different from native DNA as it exists in nature.” . . .
Professor Eisenberg said “there isn’t a whole lot of doctrinal support” for considering DNA as information rather than as a chemical. . . .
There is thriving competition in such areas as testing for mutations that cause cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease, even though no one company has exclusivity.
Fascinating that until now, patents have been issued by considering DNA as “chemicals” rather than “information”. (Hmm. wonder where that came from.)
But if DNA is legally “information”, what are the consequences to other fields? As in Education?
If DNA is “information”, where did it come from?
Evolution? But how can the four forces of nature generate “information” from stochastic processes?
Do I hear any novel theories coming to the rescue?
Panspermia? But doesn’t that just displace the origin by a few million or billion years?
Does “uncommon descent” have anything to do with it?
Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent By JOHN SCHWARTZ and ANDREW POLLACK March 29, 2010, NYT
See Judge Robert W. Sweet’s 152 page ruling in Association for Molecular Pathology et al. v. US Patent & Trademark Office, 1:09-cv-04515-RWS Doc. 255.
How does one legally define “DNA” as “information”?
Judge Sweet opined:
“DNA represents the physical embodiment of biological information, distinct in its essential characteristics from any other chemical found in nature. It is concluded that DNA’s existence in an “isolated” form alters neither this fundamental quality of DNA as it exists in the body, nor the information it encodes. Therefore, the patents at issue directed to “isolated DNA” containing sequences found in nature are unsustainable as a matter of law and are deemed unpatentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
Similarly, because comparisons of DNA sequences are abstract mental processes, they also constitute unpatentable subject matter under § 101. ” pg 3, 4
If this is overturned, I could see a basis for arguing that the comparisons are useful processes, not just “abstract mental processes.”
It is also fascinating that comparing DNA sequences are “mental processes”.
PS Does being able to read 152 pages of patent ruling addressing “information” qualify one as being “intelligent”? If so, does writing that 152 page ruling make Judge Sweet an “intelligent agent”?
PPS Wonder how long it would take a legion of monkeys to reproduce Judge Sweet’s ruling using stochastic processes?
The original title was: “Patent Judge rules DNA is INFORMATION not chemicals” implicitly referring to its patentability. To remove some misunderstandings below on DNA remaining chemicals, I changed the title to:
“Judge rules DNA is unpatentable because it is INFORMATION not extracted chemicals”. Also added: “Judge Sweet opined:” and blocked his quote.
Barry Arrington clarifies and provides a larger quote at: Judge Rules DNA is Unique Because it Carries Functional Information