The US Supreme Court is being asked to judge whether human genes can be patented

In a recent CNN article written by Bill Mears entitled: Justices at odds over patents for human genes, is reported that the US Supreme Court has heard on Monday arguments questioning whether the government should allow patents for human genes.

The lawsuit centers on whether companies and scientists could patent human DNA extracted from the body like a mechanical invention.

The case relates to nine patents on two human genes held by US biotech firm Myriad Genetics.

Myriad Genetics isolated two related types of biological material, BCRA-1 and BCRA-2, linked to increased hereditary risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

The company claims that the genes patented were “isolated” by them, making them products of human ingenuity and therefore patentable.

There are two completely different opinions to this so moot question. Scientists and companies argue patents stimulate medical innovation and investment that saves lives. But patient rights groups and civil libertarians accuse the patent holders are “holding hostage” the diagnostic care and access of information available to high-risk patients.

During the court hearing, people came together outside holding signs: “Your corporate greed is killing my friends”, “My genes are not property.”

According to Justice Stephen Breyer, the patent law is filled with uneasy compromises, because on the one hand, they do want people to invent, on the other hand, there is a worry about them tying up some kind of whatever it is, particularly a thing that itself could be used for further advance.

Justice Anthony Kennedy appreciated Myriad’s significant investment in time and money in its genetic studies and propounded that they might be given two-decade control over the genes for research, diagnostics, and treatment.

But a “chocolate chip” cookie analogy made by Justice Sonia Sotomayor demonstrated pretty clear that it is impossible to get a patent just isolating naturally derived products only for the particular process or use of the cookie. Indeed, it seems nonsense to apply for a patent for the basic items of salt, flour and eggs, simply because a new use or a new product from these ingredients has been created.

The patent system was designed long ago to encourage innovation, not to stifle scientific research and the free exchange of ideas and, what not less important is, not to discourage consumer accessibility to all new products.

All applications for getting a patent need a close examination based on applicable laws, in order to make right decision between abstract ideas and principles, and more tangible scientific discoveries and principles.

Medical science had traditionally avoided patents.

It is well-known that in 1952 Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio oral vaccine. He announced his life-saving treatment, saying the people would “own” the vaccine, adding “Could you patent the sun?”

The sun does not come into question, but for the past 31 years, US authorities have been awarding patents on 20 percent of the human genes to universities and medical companies.

Nobody disputes the fact isolating the building blocks of life is not easy. Myriad has spent several years and hundreds of millions of dollars in its research.

Myriad Genetics is the only company that can perform tests for potential abnormalities of breast cancer genes. An initial test usually registers most problems, but the company also offers a second test, called BART, to detect the rest, a diagnostic that can cost several thousand dollars.

“Strong intellectual property and patent rights in the United States are critical to fulfilling our mission,” has said Richard Marsh, executive vice president and general counsel at Myriad.

Myriad points out the benefit for 1 million patients from its BRAC Analysis technology. 250 000 BRAC tests continue to be performed each year.

 Everybody agrees that BCRA testing has saved many lives, giving at-risk women the option of having their breasts removed as a preventive measure.

The average costs for the testing for patients is only about $100, as officials say. But there are others who disagree with these data.

Some patients have complained about too high prices for a second test, blaming the company for more interest in profits than patient care for those who cannot afford the second analysis. The company refuses in its turn to admit this as a truth.

Among those challenging the Myriad patents are sisters Eileen Kelly and Kathleen Maxian. Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40.

Maxian made a BCRA test to be sure she was not at risk. Fortunately, it showed “negative”, but later the second BART testing proved positive, meaning the siblings carry the cancer-causing mutation all along.

Now the cancer is so advanced, that Maxian have only a 20-percent chance of being alive five years from now.

Money was not an issue for them, but Kelly and Maxian, along with a coalition of physician groups and genetic counselors say Myriad has not made the BART tests widely available for patients without a strong family history of these kinds of cancers.

ACLU‘s lawyer, Christopher Hansen, said: “Myriad did not invent the human genes at issue in this case, and they should not be allowed to patent them.”

But several justices raised concerns.

Justice Antonin Scalia asked: “Why would a company incur massive investment if it cannot patent an isolated gene?”

The Supreme Court rejected the appeal court’s conclusions, and is now reconsidering the case.

A ruling from the court is expected in June.

For more detailed disputes and other arguments, please read the entire CNN article.

Medical Domains – Attorneys: Help Your Clients Build & Protect Their Online Image

  

Are your medical clients having trouble branding themselves online in a crowded marketplace?  Do you represent a hospital that would like to protect their brand by owning a prestigious .Md domain?  If so, please continue reading this article and visit My Medical Domains. 

.Md or Medical Domains as they have come to be known are becoming increasingly popular among the medical community as they represent an opportunity to turn the clock back from an online marketing perspective.  Imagine that it’s 20 years ago and that you have the vision to know how the Internet is going to unfold. The visionaries who raced to purchase popular domain names before others fully understood their value made a considerable amount of money selling those domains to companies and individuals who wanted to protect their brand online.

The reality is that it’s impossible to turn the clock back but you could be one of those visionaries who race to get a popular medical domain before the rest of the medical community discovers the value of owning a .Md domain.

Individual doctors can purchase a medical domain containing their name and add the prestigious domain to the business cards, patient communication, etc.

Example 1: JohnSmith.Md.

Medical Institutions such as hospitals, clinics, laboratories, etc. should seriously consider purchasing a medical domain to protect their online brand an image before someone who is not affiliated with their organization purchases the domain.

Example 2: ABCHospital.Md

Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) savvy businesses who are aggressively seeking to acquire new clients through online marketing should look to acquire medical domains containing industry key words to enhance their organically generated traffic.

Example 3: MesotheliomaPatients.Md

So where do you go to find out if your name is available and to purchase the medical domain? An innovative company called My Medical Domains provides its clients with quick and easy service.  The Company has a Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) page which should answer most or all of your questions.

In case you are wondering about the .Md extension and why it is not already popular with the medical community, you might be interested to learn its origin.  The .Md domain was NOT created for the medical community but actually was assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to the Republic of Moldova.

Moldova, officially the Republic of Moldova, is a landlocked nation located in Eastern Europe  between Romania (West) and Ukraine (North, East and South).  With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moldova declared its independence and adopted a new constitution on July 29, 1994.

Unlike some other countries who impose restrictions on who may purchase country specific domains, Moldova does not impose any such restrictions. The purchase of these domains is open to anyone.  There are no citizenship or any other conditions imposed on the purchase of .Md domains.

Examples of companies who have purchased .Md domains (as reported by MyMedicalDomains.com) are the following:

  • the National Institute of Health (NIH) acquired and is currently using “physician.md” which forwards to “nih.gov”
  • Sermo acquired and is currently using “sermo.md” which forwards to “sermo.com”
  • Mayo Clinic reserved but is currently not using “mayo.md” and “mayoclinic.md” (neither domain does resolve to a website as of now)

So if you would like to join the growing list of forward thinking medical professionals and organizations who are securing a medical domain to enhance or protect their online brand, visit My Medical Domains and purchase your own .Md.

WHAT DO LAWYERS DO? AND WHERE?

All lawyers are not alike. They can work in various capacities such as legal and non-legal. Also, they specialize in private areas. Moreover, lawyers do not usually go to trial to win the case as you can watch in movies or on TV. Generally speaking, there are two areas where they usually specialize in:

1. Legal Specializations
Some lawyers specialize in a particular area, the other – in trial law (civil or criminal). They can also help clients who seek to reverse or to uphold lower court decisions, bankruptcy law, tax law, trusts and estates, corporate law, environmental law, intellectual property, communication law, elder law, employment and labor law, entertainment law, health care law, education law, international law, etc. The list of is almost endless.

2. Legal Settings
Lawyers also work in a variety of settings. Some of them are described below.
Private Practice:
The lawyers work in private practice as solo practitioners, in small or “boutique” law firms, in firms that have several hundred lawyers. As usual, they join firms as “associates” and work toward becoming “partners.” Life at a large law firm is influenced by “billable hours.”
In-House:
“In-house” work means that lawyers are employed by a single client or a large corporation. Large companies usually hire one or more lawyers to go through more specific issues. For example, one supervises litigation, another addresses the company’s employment issues, a third lawyer tries to influence legislation related to the company’s business. Also, if in-house lawyers represent only one client, they are not beholden to the “billable hour.”
Government:
The federal government also hire lawyers for different tasks. There are District attorneys, State Attorney Generals, and federal prosecutors who work at the Department of Justice here in D.C. and at U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country and public defenders who represent those who cannot afford an attorney. All of the government representatives also work for the Office of Homeland Security the Environmental Protection Agency, the Security Exchange Commission, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Similarly, the United States Congress offer many opportunities for lawyers to help pass legislation.
Academia:
Lawyers teach in law schools and colleges. Many of the lawyers get teaching experience first by working as a professor. At the same time they may also work elsewhere full time.

Only some of the legal settings were mentioned in this article. If you want to know more information on the topic, please, visit the link below:

http://www.nalp.org/what_do_lawyers_do