On June 22, a divided Supreme Court summarily disposed of LabCorp v. Metabolite Laboratories, Inc., No.04-607 (June 22, 2006), one the most closely watched patent cases to come before the Court. The Court, split 5-3 (Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. recused himself), dismissed the petition for certiorari as improvidently granted because the central issue on appeal had not been properly raised or briefed in the lower courts.

Nevertheless, the core issue of whether discovery of biochemical functionality is patentable subject matter remains of primary concern to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. This is a question of increasing importance where broad patents have been awarded on upstream discoveries that amount to the mere identification of a functional biological relationship, because this situation threatens to stifle innovation further downstream in the course of research and product development.

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