The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics is an essential piece of the Court’s recent quartet of patent eligibility decisions, which also includes Bilski v. Kappos, Mayo v. Prometheus, and Alice v. CLS Bank. Each of these decisions has significantly shaped the contours of patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act in ways that have been both applauded and criticized. The Myriad case, however, was significant beyond its impact on Section 101 jurisprudence. It was seen, and litigated, as a case impacting patient rights, access to healthcare, scientific freedom, and human dignity. In this article, I offer a close textual analysis of the Myriad decision and respond to both its critics and supporters. I then situate Myriad within the larger context of biotechnology patenting, the commercialization of academic research, and the U.S. healthcare system. In this regard, the failure of public institutions and governmental agencies to constrain the private exploitation of publicly-funded innovations contributed as much to the healthcare access disparities highlighted by the case as the overly broad protection afforded by the Patent and Trademark Office to genetic inventions. I conclude with observations about the ways that cases like Myriad exemplify the manner in which the common law evolves, particularly in areas of rapid technological change.
Jorge L. Contreras,
Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics: A Critical Reassessment,
Mich. Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mtlr/vol27/iss1/2