In 2013, the Supreme Court held that genes found in nature cannot be patented; invalidating Myriad Genetics’ patents on the human breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. The ACLU and other nonprofits led the charge and noted litigator Chris Hansen took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Questions remain, however. What will lower courts make of the Supreme Court’s distinction of “cDNA,” already receiving criticism from bench scientists? And how is Myriad Genetics continuing to defend its assertion of proprietary controls on the tests? Chris Hansen will discuss the case, and scientists and technology transfer experts respond.
Courtney Babbitt, Asst. Professor, Biology and Honors Department
Joseph Jerry, Science Director, Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI); Director, Center for Breast Cancer Research, PVLSI; Professor, Veterinary and Animal Sciences
Frederick Reinhart, Jr., Director, Commercial Ventures & Intellectual Property
Chris Hansen joined the ACLU in 1973, working on complex litigation involving mental retardation, mental health, and child welfare systems, and school desegregation. Hansen led the ACLU’s efforts to protect Internet speech under the First Amendment, culminating in the landmark Supreme Court case Reno v. ACLU (1997). Most recently, he led the ACLU’s efforts to invalidate patents granted on human genes, arguing successfully in the 2013 Supreme Court case AMP v. Myriad Genetics. Hansen has argued cases in multiple courts at all levels, including the US Supreme Court. He retired from the ACLU in 2013.
Sponsored by the Science and Engineering Library at UMass Amherst Libraries, College of Natural Sciences, Office of Research & Engagement, Commonwealth Honors College, American Bar Association (ABA) University Intellectual Property Law Committee