Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


As medicine advances toward a more personalized model, the significance of genetic information is growing exponentially. While unlocking the genetic code has advanced the state of medicine, it has also reinvigorated the debate over the boundaries of patentable subject matter. The potential clash between having access to state-of-the-art medicine and protecting intellectual property investments came to a head in the case, Association of Molecular Pathology v. USPTO (“Myriad”). This Article analyzes the legal opinion rendered by the district court through the unique lens of genetic exceptionalism—a concept previously reserved to social science and public policy. Then, this Article analyzes Judge Sweet’s unprecedented incorporation of genetic exceptionalism into the Patent Act by first tracing the historical roots of the exceptionalism doctrine and then dissecting the Myriad decision through that historical lens. As it stands at publication, it has yet to be seen whether the Supreme Court will similarly adopting a novel interpretation of the Patent Act that incorporates genetic exceptionalism into the Act’s subject matter restrictions.

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