13th April 2016

QUT's Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Program is hosting a forum on gene patents in Brisbane today.

The forum is looking at the the dramatic developments in respect of intellectual property and biotechnology over the past few years, QUT Intellectual Property and Innovation Professor Matthew Rimmer said.

"The US Supreme Court in 2013 rejected Myriad Genetics' patent claims to isolate genes on the grounds that they were products of nature," Professor Rimmer said.

"Here in Australia, the High Court in 2015 handed down a landmark decision, ruling 7-0 in favour of Brisbane grandmother and breast cancer survivor Yvonne D'Arcy in her challenge against Myriad Genetics' patents on genetic testing for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

"This year, Children's Hospital of East Ontario in Canada obtained a settlement with the American owner of gene patents related to a potentially deadly heart disorder - Long QT Syndrome.

"And only just this month (April 2016), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected a junk DNA patent held by Australian company Genetic Technologies Limited on the grounds that it was not eligible for patent protection under the approach taken in the Myriad case."

Professor Rimmer said these disputes would have a significant bearing upon patient care, research freedom, access to healthcare, and innovation.

"These conflicts will also have major implications for the biotechnology industry – including in respect of medicine, diagnostics, agriculture, and the environment," he said.

This forum will consider a range of views from leading experts on these important precedents, including Professor Dianne Nicol, Professor Charles Lawson, Professor Matthew Rimmer, Dr Ben McEniery, Hope Johnson, and Scott Kiel-Chisholm.

Professor Rimmer said QUT had also made a significant contribution to the analysis of gene patents with the development of the Patent Lens.

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT Media, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901 or media@qut.edu.au.


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