Published on February 21, 2012 at 4:33 PM
In 2008 a Melbourne company that holds the Australian rights for Myriad's BRCA1 mutation patent, Genetic Technologies, wrote to the eight public laboratories that were performing the test, informing them it would be asserting its patent rights and insisting on performing all future tests itself. The company later backed down, but not before a range of groups such as Cancer Council Australia raised the alarm, triggering a Senate inquiry and a parliamentary bill that sought to ban or limit the effect of such patents.
Cancer Voices Australia, a national organization representing cancer patients, and Yvonne D’Arcy, a Brisbane resident diagnosed with breast cancer, sued Myriad Genetics and Genetic Technologies Ltd. in 2010 over a patent the companies have on a gene mutation associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Rebecca Gilsenan, principal lawyer representing patient group Cancer Voices, said “Patents protect inventions, not discoveries,” Rebecca Gilsenan, a partner at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, who represents the plaintiffs, said before the trial. “No Australian court has considered the question of whether isolated human genes are patentable.”
The case is expected to last between five and eight days. The case is: Cancer Voices Australia v. Myriad Genetics. NSD643/2010. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).