Patent Law: Federal Circuit Rules Isolated DNA May Be Patented

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - August 2, 2011

On July 29, 2011, in a highly anticipated opinion, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that isolated DNA molecules are patentable subject matter under § 101 of the Patent Act. All three judges on the Federal Circuit panel also ruled that method claims for screening cancer treatments by testing their effects on cell growth rates are patentable, but that method claims for “comparing” or “analyzing” DNA sequences are not patentable because they are merely abstract mental processes. Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, --- F.3d --- (Fed. Cir. July 29, 2011).