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The AALL Spectrum® blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.

The AALL Spectrum blog is no longer published. Previous posts are archived on this page.
7/9/2013 3:26:35 PM

Book Review: Patenting Medical and Genetic Diagnostic Methods

Patenting Medical and Genetic Diagnostic Methods, by Eddy D. Ventose, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013, 232 pages, $120, ISBN 978-1-78100-177-6.

Patenting Medical and Genetic Diagnostic Methods is a meticulous examination of patent protection for methods of medical treatment and genetic diagnostic methods in the United States.  It is recommended for patent attorneys and law students who plan to practice intellectual property law.   The book is an expansion of a chapter the author wrote in a previous book, Medical Patent Law: The Challenges of Medical Patents.  


Following the introduction in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 addresses early U.S. decisions on patentability of methods of medical treatment.  As the author explains, these decisions were often inconsistent.  In one 1883 decision, ex parte Brinkerhoff, it was held that “methods or modes of treatment of physicians of certain diseases are not patentable,” based on a judgment that medical processes could not reliably produce consistent results.  But medical and scientific knowledge evolved and Brinkerhoff  was overruled in 1954 by ex parte Scherer, which accepted that methods of treatment by surgery, therapy, and diagnostic methods were patentable.


Chapter 3 is a discussion of legislative efforts to exempt physicians and related health care entities from patent infringement lawsuits.  Chapter 4 is a detailed examination of leading cases on patent eligibility relevant to Section 101 of the Patent Act, the section that affords patentable protection to anyone who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.”  Cases discussed in depth are Gottschalk v. Benson, Parker v. Flook, Diamond v. Diehr, and Bilski v. Kappos.  Ventose assesses whether any general principles emerged from these decisions that are applicable to patenting medical and genetic diagnostic methods.


Chapters 5 and 6 discuss cases considered by the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court.  Among the cases receiving prominent treatment is Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, which addressed attempts to patent laws of nature.  Unfortunately, this book was published before the recent and highly anticipated Supreme Court decision in Association for Molecular Pathology et al. v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., et al.  In Myriad the Court unanimously held that claims to isolated DNA sequences do not quality as patent-eligible subject matter.   No doubt an update on this case will appear in any subsequent editions of the book.


Interestingly, though this book is about U.S. law, author Eddy V. Ventose does not live or work nor was he raised in the United States.  He grew up on the island of St. Lucia, was educated at Oxford and Cambridge, and is a professor at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.  Ventose has made an important contribution to legal literature with Patenting Medical and Genetic Diagnostic Methods, an exhaustively researched and thoroughly documented work.  Although its extensive analysis makes it less suitable for general practitioners, it would be a valuable addition to law school libraries and for patent practitioners.  It is also suitable for readers interested in legal history or the evolution of medical patents.  Along with detailed legal analysis of cases the book contains a helpful table of cases, table of national and international legislation, bibliography and comprehensive index. 

Donna M. Fisher is the law librarian at Senniger Powers LLP, St. Louis MO.

Posted By Donna Fisher at 7/9/2013 3:26:35 PM  0 Comments
7/1/2013 12:28:01 PM

New Technical Services Law Librarian Newsletter Now Available

The June 2013 issue of Technical Services Law Librarian is now available.  As usual, it is full of interesting and relevant articles for all law librarians.  For example, Karen Wahl explains the process in which Library of Congress Subject Headings are updated and changed specifically for law.  Karen Selden updates us on the recent developments at OCLC, including the news that OCLC control numbers will soon expand. 
There are also lists of programs related to collection development and TS-SIS and OBS-SIS activities at the upcoming AALL annual meeting.  In her management column, Mary Lippold challenges those who complain that "the AALL meeting never has anything for me" and offers her suggestions for programs that are helpful to technical services librarians.    

Posted By Sara Sampson at 7/1/2013 12:28:01 PM  0 Comments
6/28/2013 2:34:46 PM

Book Review: The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change

James E. Moliterno, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change, Oxford University Press, 2013, 252 pages, inclusive of index, Hardcover, $85.00, ISBN 978-0-19-991763-1

James E. Moliterno is the Vincent Bradford Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law.  This book would be a good addition to any law library as it offers an excellent historical perspective of the American Bar Association and its responses (or lack thereof) to change and crisis. 

The book is divided by significant events in American history, such as immigration in the early 20th century, the rise in communism, the civil rights movement, Watergate, and litigation boom and how the profession handled each event or failed to handle.  Each event clearly shows where the profession had the opportunity to effectuate real change not only within the profession but in society overall and where it fell short.  Even when change occurred it rarely affected the current members but only future members.

In the preface Mr. Moliterno acknowledges that the book isn’t designed to solve any particular crisis but to bring attention to the legal profession’s way of handling crisis management.  Hopefully, as Mr. Moliterno states, by reading this book, the legal profession can learn from and improve on our professions’ approach to change and crisis and actually effectuate real change.

Whitney A. Curtis is the Assistant Director for Public Services at University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Library.

Posted By Whitney Curtis at 6/28/2013 2:34:46 PM  0 Comments