The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Maria Archuleta, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666;

ACLU and PUBPAT to Argue TOMORROW That Patents on Breast Cancer Genes Are Unconstitutional and Invalid

First Hearing in Federal Court About the Patentability of Human Genes


American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation
(PUBPAT), a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Benjamin N.
Cardozo School of Law, will go before a federal court tomorrow asking
it to rule that patents on two human genes associated with breast and
ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid. The groups charge that
the patents stifle diagnostic testing and research that could lead to
cures and that they limit women's options regarding their medical care.

The lawsuit, Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al.,
was originally filed on May 12, 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York on behalf of breast cancer and women's
health groups, individual women and scientific associations
representing approximately 150,000 researchers, pathologists and
laboratory professionals. The lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, as well as Myriad Genetics and the University of
Utah Research Foundation, which hold the patents on the genes, BRCA1
and BRCA2. The lawsuit charges that patents on human genes violate the
First Amendment and patent law because genes are "products of nature"
and therefore can't be patented.

Several major organizations,
including the American Medical Association, the March of Dimes and the
American Society for Human Genetics, filed friend-of-the-court briefs
in support of the ACLU and PUBPAT's case.

ACLU and PUBPAT attorneys will be available for questions after the hearing outside the courthouse.

Oral arguments in Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al., challenging the patents on the human genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

ACLU attorneys Chris Hansen and
Sandra Park will argue the case before Judge Robert W. Sweet of the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Court. Other
co-counsel in the lawsuit, including Daniel B. Ravicher, Executive
Director of PUBPAT, as well as some plaintiffs and expert witnesses
will also attend the hearing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
10:00 a.m. EST

Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse
Courtroom 18C
500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007

More information about the case,
including an ACLU video featuring breast cancer patients, plaintiff and
supporter statements and declarations, the motion for summary judgment
and the legal complaint, can be found online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666