So you have good genes. Do they belong to you?

Whether you have a flawless complexion or high metabolism, people might say that you have good genes. They may be the reason for your curly hair, freckles or skin color.

Every child inherits certain traits from their biological parents. However, if a new intellectual property (IP) amendment becomes law, you may no longer have the rights to your genes.

The Supreme Court determined you cannot patent human genes

Six years ago, there were more than 4,300 human genes patented throughout the United States. Once the patent holders received 20 years of IP protection, they could determine the use of that gene, whether in noncommercial settings, which includes research, and commercial settings, such as in clinical tests.

But in June 2013, a Supreme Court ruling invalidated those patents and ruled that you cannot patent a gene, or DNA sequence, because it is a product of nature. But is that law about to change?

A new law could allow pharmaceutical and biotech companies the intellectual property rights to your genes

Some attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reportedly oppose the pending change in legislation because you cannot patent an abstract idea or product of nature. However, if lawmakers pass the amendment to federal patent legislation, the new laws would allow certain companies to claim rights to gene:

  • Testing
  • Experimentation
  • Treatments

It is possible that patenting genes could help these organizations develop life-enriching medications. However, some of the opponents to the amendment argue that patenting genes could allow corporations to establish significant price points for potentially necessary medical treatments.

Meanwhile, others assert that the law may infringe upon your rights as a patient. But if others suffer from a life-threatening medical problem, how would you feel about your genes being used to create a solution?

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