Although the same patent laws apply to all fields of technology, new technologies inevitably present USPTO and the courts with new problems in the interpretation and application of old standards to determine such issues as patent eligibility, utility, novelty, nonobviousness, and adequacy of disclosure. Because the resolution of legal disputes takes time, a lag between the emergence of new technologies and the resolution of disputed issues of patent law that the new technologies raise will occur. Most of the existing legal precedents involving genomic patents address technology that is at least a decade old. Important issues concerning the patentability of ESTs—a technology from the early 1990s—are only now being addressed by the Federal Circuit. Meanwhile, USPTO and the scientific community have had notable success in working together to determine how best to apply the standards of patent law to new types of discoveries in genomics, providing a model for addressing emerging patent law questions in proteomics and structural genomics in a more timely fashion.

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