Do not patent my genes
On Sunday night, CBS's 60 Minutes will present a profile about a recent victory in a ground-breaking gene patent case.
Please tune in and see the important work your support helps to make possible.
I wanted to let you know about a recent groundbreaking ACLU victory that the support of friends like you helped make happen.
For over 20 years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has been issuing patents on human genes—giving corporations, individuals, and universities exclusive rights to test, study, or even look at specific genes.
Arguing that this practice violates patent law as well as the public's First Amendment rights, which protect the free exchange of ideas and information, the ACLU—along with the Public Patent Foundation—filed suit against the PTO and Myriad Genetics in May 2009. Myriad Genetics holds the patent on two genes linked with breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2.
I am thrilled to report that, on Monday, a federal district court judge ruled that human genes can not be patented. This is the first time a court has said that this practice is unlawful.
Myriad Genetics has already announced that it will appeal this decision. But, this is a tremendous first step in bringing an end to patents that restrict people's access to their own genetic information and interfere with their medical care.
I could not be prouder of the creative and hard-working ACLU attorneys who argued this case. While many have spoken out against gene patenting over the years, our lawsuit was the first to ever challenge gene patents on First Amendment grounds. The Genomics Law Report called the decision "radical and astonishing in its sweep."
It is only with the support of friends like you that we are able to take on groundbreaking cases like this to defend, preserve and expand individual rights.
Anthony D. Romero
American Civil Liberties Union