High court rejects medical-method patent

A unanimous Supreme Court has struck down a patent over diagnostic methods in medicine, the latest in a series of controversies over the bounds of patentable subject matter. [Mayo v. Prometheus Labs; Marcia Coyle/NLJ, SCOTUSBlog, Timothy Lee/ArsTechnica] As I noted last fall, my Cato Institute colleagues Ilya Shapiro, Jim Harper and Timothy Lee filed an amicus brief on behalf of the side that prevailed yesterday, arguing against the spread of “a dangerous exception to traditional patent law… the Court should reject medical-diagnostic patents as impermissibly restricting the freedom of thought.”


  • It is good to know that there is still a little sanity left in patent law. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court let the genie out of the bottle when they first allowed software patents. While this ruling helps, it will not prevent other companies from trying to patent ideas.

    On an amusing side note, I clicked on an ad the other day for what was claimed to be a patented product that would provide “free energy”. They listed the patents and sure enough the patent office had approved three patents for a perpetual motion machine! The quality of patent examiners sure has deteriorated from the ones employed by the Swiss patent office in 1900.

  • I’m really interested in this. I use that test, and it’s expensive and not covered by insurance. I wonder if this will bring in price competition.

  • I once had a great American company claim that a=F/m was a proprietary formula, and deserved to be withheld from public disclosure. Another one claimed that the re-arrangement of chapters into a particular order in a safety evaluation report was proprietary.

    I have been waiting for a claim of patent on using exactly 3.14159 as the ratio of the diameter of a circle to the radius, as a new invention.