Nothing like a good patent cat-fight.
You have to love Supreme Court patent decisions as they make one side so clearly euphoric and the other completely disgusted. The recent Mayo Collaborative Sciences v. Prometheus Laboratories happily is no exception to this principle.
In brief, the case involves a method of determining the proper drug dosage for administering 6-thioguanine to treat patients for Crohn's disease. In this instance, the high court ruled the method as patent ineligible largely for running afoul of the "laws of nature" test and "machine or transformation" test.
Now the fun begins. In his blog, Derek Lowe, hails the decision by the Court as the best thing since sliced bread and can barely contain his glee -- in fact the post is entitled - "The Supreme Court Makes Me Smile." His comments on Prometheus trying to "patent the practice of medicine" are quite amusing and you shoud read for yourself. He concludes that he hopes we don't see any more of this "nonsense" -- refering to the Prometheus patents.
In Xconomy this afternoon, Robert Sachs (IP attorney) takes the Court to task for handing down a ruling that will likely kill innovation in the diagnostic testing field, will hurt all of life sciences and biotechnology and will have far-reaching unintended consequences for untold industries. Basically, the patent world will spin off its axis. My favorite quote, "the Court spliced together a legal virus that will undoubtedly be used to challenge and ultimately invalidate patents in a wide range of technologies....the law of unintended consequences will be tested -- and confirmed -- once again."
The Patent Doc blog does its usual fine job of just summarizing the Court's decision and reasoning ... though it is evident throught that presentation in spots that the writer (Kevin Noonan) doesn't agree with the reasoning and that is further clarified in the blog's comments sections. Normal practice will be for Kevin to discuss and analyze the Court's reasoning while supplying his assessment of its merits or lack thereof in an upcoming post -- likely to appear at a Patent Doc blog page near you.
My take thus far is that patent attorneys are disdainful of the Court's ruling as a matter of law (and legal reasoning) and are also put off that the Court did nothing to clarify the standard for patent eligibility of these life science type inventions. "Common sense" commentators seem to embrace the ruling as keeping another stupid patent off the books that would allow an obvious process to be patented, and one that would encumber further development in the field.
Let the games begin.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Mar 22nd 2012.