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The fate and future of patents on human genes and genetic diagnostic methods


Since the 1970s, patents on human genes and genetic diagnostic methods have been granted under the assumption that they stimulate the development of diagnostic methods and therapeutic products. However, the principles and practices of patenting vary between jurisdictions. Do patent holders, researchers, clinicians and patients really benefit from this heterogeneous patent system? We discuss the problems that result from the current system and suggest how they might be solved by altering the way in which patents are granted and/or licensed.

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Correspondence to Gert Matthijs.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary information S1 (table)

Examples of claims in gene patents (PDF 76 kb)

Supplementary information S2 (box)

Unclear and broad claims for genes (PDF 58 kb)

Supplementary information S3 (box)

Unclear and broad claims for genetic diagnostic methods (PDF 59 kb)

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Huys, I., Matthijs, G. & Van Overwalle, G. The fate and future of patents on human genes and genetic diagnostic methods. Nat Rev Genet 13, 441–448 (2012).

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