In DepthIntellectual Property

U.S. patent office reworks unpopular policy

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Science  09 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6218, pp. 113
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6218.113

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is again changing how it evaluates inventions derived from nature. Recent Supreme Court decisions, including a 2013 ruling that struck down patents on human genes, forced USPTO to tighten its rules about what is eligible for patent protection. But the agency drew fire with its first attempt to set a new standard this past March, which raised the eligibility bar for many biotech products. Critics warned that they would chill investment and render new therapies and diagnostics unpatentable. USPTO is now seeking feedback on a revised set of guidelines, which many of those critics see as an improvement, though it's not yet clear how they will be implemented.