PatentlyO recently posted a nearly final draft of a paper writer by Professor Rebecca Eisenberg that will be published in the Journal of Science and Technology Law (note to author – fix fn 23). (A copy can be found at the end of this post.) She and I have been on the opposite side of issues such as patents for genes at various times, but she nails the purposeful and logically unsupportable rationales of the Fed. Cir. and the Supreme Court that she believes have already ended patent-eligibility for claims directed to diagnostic methods. While I have argued that, even post-Ambry and Ariosa, there should be room for focused claims to diagnostic methods based on the discovery of naturally-occurring correlations, this paper suggests that “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” is hopelessly optimistic.
In some of my earliest posts, pre-Myriad and pre-Prometheus (“Mayo”), I argued that the Metabolites Labs. dissent by Justices Breyer, Stevens and Souter conflated the in vivo existence of cobalamin and homocysteine in the blood with the human act of correlating an elevated level of one with a deficiency of the other. On April 27, 2009, I wrote:
“Justice Breyer, I respectfully submit that nature may contain [the basis for] correlations but it does not analyze, much less correlate, anything. Nature doesn’t care if your homocysteine level is low or high and what consequences may befall you if it is too high or low. Just as nature doesn’t care what your PSA level is, even though it is certainly a natural phenomenon that men have PSA in their blood. But a claim: ‘Human blood containing PSA’ does not anticipate a claim to a method of detecting prostate cancer by assaying blood for PSA and correlating an elevated PSA level to the presence of prostate cancer. Good thing those patents have expired; they yielded workable life-saving test before they expired.”