Cattle Genome Analysis Patent Survives Challenge

An important decision was delivered today in the Australian Federal Court, in respect of Australian patent 2010202253. The patent concerns a method of using DNA analysis to identify cattle, with favourable traits such as meat yield, feed efficiency, milk production, amongst a long list of others. As Australia is home to more than 40,000 Australian farms (1) yielding over 30 million head of cattle (2), this dispute has been closely watched by the Australian media (3,4,5).

The court case was an appeal from an opposition brought by Meat and Livestock Australia joined by Dairy Australia, against the US patent owners, Branhaven LLC and Cargill Inc. While we await the text of the judgment, we understand that the subject matter of the patent has been distinguished from the Australian High Court’s 2015 Myriad (6) decision, and has been found to be patentable. A series of minor deficiencies in the patent claims were identified, but these are likely to be remediable through amendment. The result should allow the patent to proceed to grant, subject to any further appeal.

Notwithstanding today’s decision, that the Victorian Supreme Court has ordered one of the patentee’s (Branhaven LCC’s) assets frozen for failing to pay its (former) legal representatives in respect of this dispute. This order includes many of its rights relating to the patent (7).

We will provide an in-depth analysis when the text of the judgement is available.

If you have any specific enquiries about this article, please contact Paul Jones or Debra Tulloch.
6. D’Arcy v Myriad Genetics Inc [2015] HCA 35
7. See: