Friday, July 12, 2013

Remarkable Research Use Exemption

Myriad Genetics, Inc., owner of a large portfolio of patents claiming various aspects of testing patients for gene variants indicative of heightened risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, announced on its website its new "Pledge to Our Patients and the Research Community."  Part II of its "Affirmation and Pledge" states that
Myriad has supported and continues to support research institutions in the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge, and we will not impede non-commercial, academic research that uses patented technology licensed or owned by us. [Emphasis added.]

After enduring withering criticism from many quarters over its patents claiming isolated human gene variants, suffering the loss of several important claims in the United States Supreme Court decision AMP v. Myriad, and watching its stock price dip precipitously, Myriad may be hoping for redemption from the public and the medical community.  Its new pledge may or may not accomplish this goal, but it does suggest a template for a more general research and experimental exception to patent infringement, and is likely to influence patent policy far beyond Myriad itself.