Motions to Amend in Inter Partes Review: Why did Ethicon Cut Against the Grain?

December 9, 2019

Motions to amend (MTAs) are generally disfavored. The prevailing approach calls for patentees to file an MTA in Inter Partes Review (IPR) only in limited circumstances. In particular, most patentees are moving to narrow or clarify claim scope via an MTA only in cases where (i) there is no related application pending at the Office and (ii) the specter of lost past damages due to intervening rights outweighs the risk of an invalidity finding. At first glance, neither (i) nor (ii) appears to be true in the case of Intuitive Surgical, Inc. v. Ethicon, LLC, (IPRs2018-00933, 00934, and 00935), yet Ethicon elected to pursue an MTA in each of the IPRs and was successful in doing so.... Read more

Short-Term Uncertainties after Arthrex

November 20, 2019

The Federal Circuit in a precedential opinion in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., vacated and remanded a final written decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), finding that the Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) are not constitutionally appointed, violating the Appointments Clause. Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., No. 2018-2140 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 31, 2019). The opinion in Arthrex also indicates that an Appointments Clause challenge should be timely raised on appeal, and thus, is waived when not presented in an appeal that has passed or been decided.... Read more

Patent Eligibility Under 35 U.S.C. 101 of Articles of Manufacture

November 6, 2019

FYF-JB, LLC sued Pet Factory, Inc. for infringing its U.S. Patent 9,681,643 ("the ‘643 patent") covering a tug toy for animals that emits a sound when it is pulled on both sides. Pet Factory moved to dismiss FYF-JB's complaint, arguing that the asserted claims were directed to patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ("the Court") denied Pet Factory's motion to dismiss.... Read more

Some Natural Phenomena are Better than Others: How which Natural Phenomenon a Claim is Directed to Influences Alice Step 2

October 16, 2019

In patents for diagnostic methods, which natural phenomena the patent is directed to may be just as important as whether it is directed to a natural phenomenon at all. A January 2019 decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) suggests that which natural phenomena a court determines the patent claim is directed to under Alice step one could have significant implications for Alice step 2. The Board’s decision in Ex parte Lee stands in contrast to the Federal Circuit’s decision in Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc. And comparing the two side-by-side reveals that patent applicants have an incentive to not only argue whether their patent is directed to a natural phenomenon, but also to which natural phenomena it is directed.

Ex Parte Lee
 concerned an appeal from the Examiner’s determination that the diagnostic claims were patent ineligible. Claim 1 of the application was representative and describes:<... Read more

The Flip Side of Reasonable Expectation of Success is Unpredictability

October 11, 2019

The Federal Circuit in a precedential opinion in Osai Pharmaceuticals, LLC v Apotex et al (Fed. Cir., October 4, 2019) reversed the USPTO's determination of obviousness in an IPR for patent claims directed to the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Just reading the background of the first three or four pages of the decision, it was already apparent that the Court was not going to be affirming the PTAB's decision. Notably:... Read more

USPTO Proposed Revisions to Rules on Patent Term Adjustment

October 9, 2019

特許期間調整に関する米国特許庁ルールの変更が提案されました

米国の出願審査が特許庁の遅延により極端に遅れた場合、その遅れの日数分だけプラスアルファで特許期間を長くするよう調整されます。一方で、出願人が期限延長を行うなど、自ら遅れの原因を作ってしまった場合、プラスアルファで長くなった日数分から出願人の遅延分が差し引かれることになります。このような特許期間調整(Patent Term Adjustment, PTA)により特許期間が1日でも長くなるとビジネス上大きなメリットとなり得るため、PTAを自ら減らすことのないよう拒絶応答を進めることが大事です。

先週10月4日付のFederal Registerにおいて米国特許庁は、PTAの計算方法に関する特許庁ルールの変更を提案しました。これは、今年1月のSupernus Pharm., Inc. v. Iancu, 913 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2019)の判決内容に沿ってルールを変更することを目的としています。

Supernus事件では、出願人の遅延("a failure of the applicant to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude processing or examination of an application")によりPTAが差し引かれる際の日数の数え方が争点になりました。関係するのは37 CFR 1.704(c)(8)で、現行のルールは下記の通りです。<... Read more

Prior Art Introduced During Prosecution Has Important Implications for 101 Challenges

September 19, 2019

Five years after Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int'l, 573 U.S. 208 (2014) and the institution of the Alice test, district courts are still wading through precedent set by the Federal Circuit while it attempts to apply the test. Recently, one New Mexico District Court turned to prior art introduced during the prosecution process that was aimed at the questions of novelty and non-obviousness to determine whether there was an "inventive concept" for the Alice/Mayo test.... Read more

Prosecution History Estoppel And Amendments Tangential To Patentability

September 17, 2019

The doctrine of equivalents is an equitable exception to the basic concept that the patent claims define the limit of claim protection. It is intended to prevent one from making an insubstantial change to a claimed invention to avoid infringement which is defined by the function-way-result test. The doctrine is limited by the prior art, dedication to the public, and prosecution history estoppel.... Read more

Method-of-Treatment Claims, Comprising Excluding Certain Patients from Treatment, Found to Be Patent-Ineligible Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

September 13, 2019

On August 27, 2019, in INO Therapeutics LLC v. Praxair Distribution Inc., in a 2-1 decision, the Federal Circuit upheld a district court decision that method-of-treatment claims, comprising excluding certain patients from treatment, were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.... Read more

Specification Must Adequately Disclose the Claimed Invention to Avoid Invalidation for Lack of Written Description

September 9, 2019

Drs. Stephen Quake and Christina Fan ("Quake") appealed a decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("the Board") finding the four claims of Quake's U.S. Patent 8,008,018 and Claim 25 of their U.S. Application No. 12/393,833 unpatentable for lack of written description.... Read more