B vitamins spark major U.S. Supreme Court case
ricknight | March 21, 2006 at 04:34 amby
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B vitamin deficiencies can cause a range of serious health effects, including spinal defects in children born to women with below-normal levels of folic acid and anemia in people not getting enough B12. That is why a two-step method of diagnosing those deficiencies that three medical school doctors patented in 1990 has become so widely used. It is performed tens of millions of times a year, at a cost of just a dollar or two, by laboratory testing companies across the United States. Now, to the surprise of patent lawyers, a case involving one of those companies, sued after it stopped paying some royalties, has landed in the U.S. Supreme Court, where arguments will be heard Tuesday. Even more surprising is that the court may dredge up a bombshell question not asked when the lower courts considered the case: Have inventors been busy patenting laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas?
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