The ACLU is seeking to have patents on genetic tests overturned on constitutional grounds, arguing that genes are not inventions, and that patents on them do not advance science because the companies that win them are capricious and greedy and deny legitimate researchers access to the patented arts.
On May 12, 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (PUBPAT) filed a lawsuit charging that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four scientific organizations representing more than 150,000 geneticists, pathologists, and laboratory professionals, as well as individual researchers, breast cancer and women's health groups, genetic counselors and individual women. Individuals with certain mutations along these two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are at a significantly higher risk for developing hereditary breast and ovarian cancers…
"Scientific research and testing have been delayed, limited or even shut down as a result of gene patents, stifling the development of new diagnostics and treatments," said Tania Simoncelli, ACLU science advisor. "The government should be encouraging scientific innovation, not hindering it."
"Patenting human genes is counter to common sense, patent law and the Constitution," said Daniel B. Ravicher, Executive Director of PUBPAT and co-counsel in the lawsuit. "Genes are identified, not invented, and patenting genetic sequences is like patenting blood, air or e=mc2."
(Thanks to everyone who suggested this!)