"Discovered and isolated two genes — BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 — that are highly associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad patented its discovery, giving it a 20-year monopoly over use of the genes for research, diagnostics and treatment. A group of researchers, medical groups and patients sued, challenging the patent as invalid."
The court's unanimous decision Thursday, Reuters writes, was "a mixed ruling. ... The nine justices reached a compromise by saying synthetically produced genetic material can be patented but that genes extracted from the human body, known as isolated DNA, do not merit the same legal protections."
Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas says that "we merely hold that genes and the information they encode are not patent eligible ... because they have been isolated from the surrounding genetic material."