Induced Infringement Heads to Supreme Court Amid Myriad Takeover Speculation

On Monday we wrote about the Salzberg Screen—a do-it-yourself alternative to Myriad’s BRACAnalysis test to identify deleterious mutations in the BRCA genes. We wondered whether the Salzberg Screen, which is intended to allow users to “circumvent [Myriad’s] gene patents,” could expose its designers to indirect patent infringement liability.

In a related development, this week the Supreme Court decided to hear a case (Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A.) that asks whether the legal standard for the ‘state of mind’ element of an inducement of infringement claim under Section 271(b) of the Patent Act requires “purposeful, culpable expression and conduct” or merely “deliberate indifference.” The Court’s decision, which will not come until next year, will bear on the degree of knowledge of an alleged infringer required to make out a claim for inducement of infringement.


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Filed under Bioinformatics/IT, Direct-to-Consumer Services, General Interest, Genetic Testing/Screening, Genomics & Medicine, Genomics & Society, Industry News, Legal & Regulatory, Patents & IP, Pending Litigation

Twitter Roundup

With so many developments at the intersection of genomics and the law, there are often a variety of interesting stories that, for one reason or another, don’t find their way into a full-length posting on the Genomics Law Report. Here is a recap of what I was Tweeting recently @genomicslawyer:

Filed under Uncategorized

A Personal Genomics Update

As regular readers know, in addition to my work as an attorney, in my personal time I am also actively involved with several personal genomics projects. Two of those, Genomes Unzipped and the Personal Genome Project, had major announcements this week.

On Monday, the twelve founders and co-collaborators at Genomes Unzipped (including me) published our genetic data for the world to see. We released both raw data and a custom genome browser. This morning we began the process of talking about the experience of joining the public genomics movement, something that has already affected each of us in different ways. My first post discusses why my decision to join Genomes Unzipped was not a purely personal decision.

On Tuesday, the Personal Genome Project unveiled its latest phase, announcing the enrollment of its next 1,000 participants (the “PGP-1K”), integration with Google Health for phenotype collection and sharing, the upcoming release of a number of new, public whole-genome sequences and several other exciting developments.

It has been a big week for personal genomics, and I am gratified to be involved in both of these projects. Onward and upward or, as Jason Bobe might say, “to the moon!

Filed under General Interest, Genomics & Society, Industry News

A Do-It-Yourself Genomic Challenge to Myriad, the FDA and the Future of Genetic Tests

Over the weekend, Steven L. Salzberg and Mihaela Pertea published a short but significant article in the journal Genome Biology. In “Do-it-yourself genetic testing,” Salzberg and Pertea describe the creation of “a computational screen that tests an individual’s genome for mutations in the BRCA genes, despite the fact that both are currently protected by patents.”

The software-based test can be downloaded from the website of the University of Maryland’s Center for Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, where Salzberg is the director and Pertea is on the faculty. The test purports to test genomic sequence data against a set of known mutations in the BRCA genes. In addition to representing a conceptual alternative for those seeking to evaluate their risk of hereditary breast cancer, the so-called “Salzberg Screen” is also a direct challenge to Myriad Genetics, the FDA and the existing legal, regulatory and policy regimes that continue to struggle to keep pace with the science and technology of genomics and personalized medicine.

Below, we examine how the Salzberg Screen fits—or does not—within the current legal and regulatory landscape, as well as what it signals for the future of do-it-yourself genomics, whole-genome sequencing and the law.


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Filed under Bioinformatics/IT, Direct-to-Consumer Services, FDA LDT Regulation, General Interest, Genetic Testing/Screening, Genomic Policymaking, Genomic Sequencing, Genomics & Society, Industry News, Legal & Regulatory, Myriad Gene Patent Litigation, Patents & IP, Pending Litigation, Pending Regulation

Twitter Roundup

With so many developments at the intersection of genomics and the law, there are often a variety of interesting stories that, for one reason or another, don’t find their way into a full-length posting on the Genomics Law Report. Here is a recap of what I was Tweeting recently @genomicslawyer:

Filed under General Interest, Industry News

Update: Continued Speculation on Myriad’s Motives Down Under

Last week, we wondered what Myriad Genetics had in mind by offering to surrender one of its Australian breast cancer patents as a “gift…to the people of Australia.” This week, in an interview with Turna Ray of the Pharmacogenomics Reporter, Luigi Palombi, director of the Genetic Sequence Right Project at The Australian National University, attempted to shed some light on the issue.

According to Palombi, “Myriad’s objective in surrendering the [‘004 Patent] is to bring the proceedings to a premature end.” Palombi contends that Myriad’s effort to surrender the ‘004 Patent (pdf) is designed to avoid Australian litigation that could set a harmful (even if non-binding) precedent in similar and ongoing U.S. litigation. Myriad, for its part, has so far refused to comment publicly.

A Successful Strategy? As we wrote last week, even if this is what Myriad intends, we are not so sure they will succeed. Offering up the ‘004 Patent for surrender may be a first step in heading off litigation, but without more it is difficult to explain (1) why the plaintiffs would accept the patent surrender, particularly given their stated objective (pdf) to use this litigation as a “test case” for the validity of gene patents or, (2) even if the surrender is successful, why the plaintiffs would refrain from bringing a second “test case” challenging one or more of Myriad’s other patents covering BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 and methods for diagnosing mutations in those genes. (The plaintiffs’ current complaint identifies several of these patents, but challenges the validity of only the ‘004 Patent.)


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Filed under General Interest, Genetic Testing/Screening, Genomic Policymaking, Industry News, International Developments, International News, Legal & Regulatory, Myriad Gene Patent Litigation, Patents & IP, Pending Litigation