The following is excerpted from a December 2, 2011 article by Daniel Fisher published by Forbes:
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next Wednesday in a case that forces the judges to decide whether a method of treating a disease is a patentable “invention” or merely a scientific discovery dressed up to look like one.
It’s trickier than it sounds. Lawyers for the Mayo Clinic argue in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories that Prometheus obtained a patent on a method of treating digestive-tract diseases that is so broad it prevents its researchers from even thinking about the process it covers. The owner of the patent, Prometheus Labs, says Mayo is being ridiculous and the patent is no more threatening than similar ones for diagnostic tests for diabetes and HIV. Representatives of the high-tech and pharmaceutical industries are watching closely, because the Supreme Court’s decision could rein in what critics believe is an out-of-control Patent Office and make so-called “method” patents harder to obtain.
Read the full article here.