Patents on medical imaging techniques (e.g. magnetic resonance imaging) usually refer to the data acquisition and data-processing steps, but often do not refer to the final diagnostic step (in order to avoid the exclusions mentioned above).


For example:

1. A method of imaging an artery in a region of interest in a patient using magnetic resonance imaging, the method containing the steps of:

i. Injecting a magnetic resonance contrast agent into a vein remote from the artery;

ii. Monitoring the region of interest by using a series of magnetic resonance radio frequency pulses…

iii. Generating an imaging initiation signal after detecting the arrival of the contrast agent in the region of interest;

iv. Collecting magnetic resonance image data in a magnetic resonance imaging sequence…; and

v. Constructing an image of said artery, using the magnetic resonance image data, wherein the artery appears distinct from the adjacent veins and background tissue.

Method of diagnosis patents in the US

In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that patents which were based on a correlation between a biomarker and a disease were not allowed because they were attempting to monopolise a ‘law of nature’. The US district/appeal courts and the USPTO are still trying to resolve how the Supreme Court’s decision should be applied in practice, but the decision has already had a significant impact in some areas (e.g. preventing the patenting of some pre-natal diagnostic methods). This decision only applies to US patents