Charles Duan


Recently, Congress has considered legislation to amend § 101, a section of the Patent Act that the Supreme Court has held to prohibit patenting of laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas. This draft legislation would expand the realm of patent-eligible subject matter, overturning the Court’s precedents along the way. The draft legislation, and movement to change this doctrine of patent law, made substantial headway with a subcommittee of the Senate holding numerous roundtables and hearings on the subject.

This article considers some less-discussed consequences of that draft leg- islative proposal. The legislation likely opens the door to patenting of subject matter such as human genes and scientific discoveries, given its broad lan- guage and abrogation of precedent. Allowing such patents would have conse- quential effects such as potentially raising drug prices, decreasing quality of health care, deterring scientific research, slowing the development of innova- tive technologies, and conflicting with scientific and ethical norms. Considerations such as these ought to be top-of-mind for legislators intending to change the law of patentable subject matter eligibility.