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The Supreme Court long ago ruled that an inventor who discovers a phenomenon in nature, or figures out a “law of nature,” cannot get an exclusive right to use or sell that by obtaining a patent from the federal government. Natural phenomena are the basic tools with which every would-be inventor starts, so locking up the right to use them in a monopoly held by a specific patent owner will frustrate others who might want to look for new ways to interpret that phenomena, the Court has said.
The exclusion of natural substances from eligibility for patents was the theory on which the Court relied Thursday in its unanimous ruling that a company cannot get a patent monopoly on the use and study of human genes that it isolates in the bloodstream, and them takes them out — without changing their natural character — for research.
Read the full article on the amazing SCOTUS Blog.