Politics / Law
Infringement of DNA patents?
Sussex/Brussels – British experts warn that hospitals in the country’s National Health Service (NHS) are risking being taken to court for carrying out genetic tests based on techniques patented by private companies. Lawsuits involving intellectual property in DNA diagnostics are still largely confined to the US, but Michael Hopkins, an expert in the field from Sussex University, says that court cases are becoming more and more certain. “As time goes on, it’s more likely that a company will become hungry enough to want to pursue a hospital because they are infringing a test in a valued market,” he says. Hospitals currently employ patented DNA-based patents with the tacit approval of the authorities – for example to develop tests for relatively rare diseases like cystic fibrosis. Unlike in the US, genes are under certain circumstances generally patentable in Europe.