The Supreme Court Pushes Back on Patents Again

They just struck down two patents on a drug dosage calibration method:

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a unanimous blow to Prometheus Laboratories by saying that its methods of dosage calibration for thiopurine drugs for gastrointestinal and nongastrointestinal autoimmune diseases are ineligible for patenting. In a decision written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the high court overturned the decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last December. The Federal Circuit had upheld the two diagnostic method patents, which covered the methods designed to take into account the context of a treatment regime based on the individual patient’s metabolism.

“To transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patent­ eligible application of such a law, a patent must do more than simply state the law of nature while adding the words ‘apply it,’” the court stated. “It must limit its reach to a particular, inventive application of the law.”

Prometheus’ patents failed that test, according to the court: “We conclude that the patent claims at issue here effectively claim the underlying laws of nature themselves. The claims are consequently invalid.”

Through the ruling, Breyer answered the question he posed to attorneys for both sides during oral arguments in December: “What has to be added to a law of nature to make it a patentable process?”

Basically the “method” was to measure the metabolite levels of a drug in order to determine appropriate dosages.

Yeah, that’s something that a medical intern has learned in his first year, or in med school, for the past 50+ years, but they took out a patent.

Prometheus claimed that the human body was the machine conducted the transformation.

It’s another in a streak of brush-backs to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Federal Circuit, aka the Patent Court, which expanded the reach of patents since its creation over the past 30 years.

The patent system long ago went from a system to encourage innovation to one that strangles it.

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