The U.S. Supreme Court on May 18, 2023 delivered its decision on the scope of the patent enablement requirement, set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 112, in the antibody dispute Amgen, Inc. v. Sanofi. While the parties obtained finality, many in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries received the opinion under a cloud of uncertainty and concern for exclusivity rights broad enough to both protect clinical candidates and deter competitors. While the patent bar may remain apprehensive, the Supreme Court kept the door open to genus claims. The impact of the decision may not be as far-reaching as feared.
In three previous blog posts, we have discussed recent inventorship issues surrounding Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and its implications for life sciences innovations – focusing specifically on scientist Stephen Thaler’s attempt to obtain a patent for an invention created by his AI system called DABUS (“Device for Autonomus Bootstrapping of Unified Sentence). Most recently, we considered Thaler’s appeal of the September 3, 2021 decision out of the Eastern District of Virginia, which ruled that under the Patent Act, an AI machine cannot qualify as an “inventor.” Continuing this series, we now consider the USPTO’s recently filed opposition to Thaler’s appeal.
After years of contemplation and delays, Europe’s Unified Patent Court will be operational in about one year. U.S.-based Life Sciences patent applicants should start preparing now to ensure that their applications withstand scrutiny under the new patent court.
In one of the first district court opinions applying the Federal Circuit’s recent GSK decision on induced infringement in the context of label carve-outs (the “GSK decision,” discussed here and here), Judge Richard Andrews in the District of Delaware held that plaintiff Amarin Pharma (“Amarin”) failed to plead facts sufficient to show that Hikma Pharmaceuticals’ (“Hikma”) carved-out product label and/or public marketing statements induced infringement of Amarin’s patents. The holding suggests that carved-out labels (so-called “skinny labels), despite the GSK decision, continue to provide some measure of protection from liability based on induced infringement.
Our previous blog posts, Artificial Intelligence as the Inventor of Life Sciences Patents? and Update on Artificial Intelligence: Court Rules that AI Cannot Qualify As “Inventor,” discuss recent inventorship issues surrounding AI and its implications for life sciences innovations. Continuing our series, we now look at the appeal recently filed by Stephen Thaler (“Thaler”) in his quest to obtain a patent for an invention created by AI in the absence of a traditional human inventor.
In Univ. of Strathclyde v. Clear-Vu Lighting LLC, the Federal Circuit grappled with the issue of whether claims directed to methods and systems for inactivating bacteria using blue light were obvious in view of a prior art combination that taught the claimed elements but lacked an indication of success. Ultimately, the Federal Circuit found that the patent’s success where the prior art failed – inactivation of the bacteria without a photosensitizer did not support a finding of obviousness.
The Federal Circuit’s recent ruling in MaxPower Semiconductor Inc. et al v. Rohm Semiconductor USA, LLC highlights the interplay between the liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) authority as an agency tribunal having a broad role to protect the public interest in ensuring the quality of patents.
Challenging the validity of a patent through the inter partes review (IPR) process at the PTAB is a conventional alternative to litigating invalidity in federal court. MaxPower addressed the question of whether the PTAB will defer to an agreement to arbitrate that did not expressly preclude the parties from proceeding before the PTAB.
Doctrine of equivalents (DOE) can be applied as a mechanism to hold a party liable for patent infringement even if the product or process does not literally infringe a patent claim, if the difference is “insubstantial”. Warner-Jenkinson Co. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co. (1997) Findings of infringement under DOE, particularly in biotechnology related cases, have often been considered an exception rather than the rule. One such exception is the recent Federal Circuit nonprecedential decision in Jennewein Biotechnologie GmbH v. International Trade Commission, September 17, 2020, Chen, R. (Glycosyn LLC, the patent owner, joined as an Intervenor). The Federal Circuit affirmed an exclusion order from the International Trade Commission (ITC) relying on an application of DOE to find infringement supported by substantial evidence.
The European Union has been a leader in recent years when it comes to regulatory reform intended to protect individuals’ privacy, safety, and health. As Europe leads the way, regulators in the United States often follow suit on the federal or state level. The EU’s passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), intended to protect personal data, is a prime example. Several years after GDPR enactment, California adopted a privacy rights statute of its own, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Other states have since passed comprehensive consumer privacy laws, with similar proposals under consideration in many state legislatures. This progression should serve as a reminder for those in the United States to keep a watchful eye on European regulatory activity as a potential harbinger of things to come in the U.S.
On August 23rd, the Federal Circuit upheld in part and reversed in part a decision from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB or Board) concerning Ethicon’s patent on a robotic surgical tool, holding that the Board’s finding of no motivation to combine is not supported by substantial evidence. In doing so, the court determined the PTAB “went too far” in its holding of non-obviousness by requiring Intuitive to specifically identify a preexisting surgical device performing as many functions as required by the Ethicon patent; it was enough that the prior art established such a device was “at least possible.”