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The patentability of human genes is without a doubt one of the hottest issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which in April is scheduled to hear Myriad Genetics’s appeal of a Manhattan federal district court ruling that its patents on two gene mutations are invalid. Last November the U.S. Department of Justice stunned the patent bar by filing an appellate brief that supported Judge Robert Sweet’s finding that genes, in and of themselves, are not patentable. The surprises continued in February, when acting U.S. solicitor general Neal Katyal notified the court clerk of the Federal Circuit via letter that when a three-judge panel hears the Myriad appeal, Katyal himself will present the government’s argument.

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