UK Supreme Court on Interpretation of Commercial Contracts and Patentability of Gene Sequences

The UK Supreme Court on Nov. 2, 2011 handed down two interesting judgments:

The Court held that when there is an ambiguity in construction of a clause in a commercial contract, the interpretation that would be consistent with business common sense should be given effect to. Also, in the exercise of construction is essentially one unitary exercise in which the court must consider the language used and ascertain what a reasonable person, that is a person who has all the background knowledge which would reasonably have been available to the parties in the situation in which they were at the time of the contract, would have understood the parties to have meant. In doing so, the court must have regard to all the relevant surrounding circumstances.
In holding that gene sequences can have industrial application, reversing the lower courts’ findings, the Supreme Court gave primacy two policy arguments- attracting biosciences investment into the UK and bringing UK interpretations in compliance with the European Patent Convention. See this analysis of the judgment.

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