MCRO's Pyrrhic Victory

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
May 21, 2020

On May 20 the Federal Circuit for the second time found McRO’s patent for automatically generating animations to be patentable, this time reversing the district court’s finding of invalidity for lack of enablement. In its previous decision, McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America Inc., 837 F.3d 1299 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (McRO I), the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s holding that the claims were directed to a judicial exception, an abstract idea. In McRo I the Court had reversed based on its determination that the claims were to a genus limited to rules with certain common characteristics, a genus. Id. at 1313. In particular, the “rules are limiting in that they define morph weight sets as a function of the timing of phoneme sub-sequences.” Id. <... Read more

USPTO Decides an "Inventor" as a "Natural Person"

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
April 28, 2020

The USPTO has published an apparently January 2020 Commissioner Decision effectively precluding the filing of patent applications where the invention was made solely by artificial Intelligence (AI). This decision has implications in the pharmaceutical industry where the use of AI to identify new compounds or uses for old compounds is utilizing AI. It also provides some guidance as to how the problem may be avoided.<... Read more

Listing the Medical Device Part of a Combination Product in the Orange Book May Trigger Antitrust Liability

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
March 30, 2020

A patent listing in the Orange Book provides the innovator drug company with a potent tool for excluding generic competitors who wish an ANDA application or 505(b)(2) drug approval applications relying upon the innovator's efficacy and safety data. If a patent is listed in the Orange Book the generic applicant must provide notice to the NDA holder and the patentee (if different) of the application's filing. The patentee then has 45 days to initiate litigation which would cause a 30-month stay of the FDA approval of the generic drug. Normally patents to a drug's packaging are not listable in the Orange Book, however, an exception exists for packaging which also functions as the drug's applicator. Sanofi took advantage of this provision to list U.S.P. 8,556,864 (‘864 patent) which was directed to the drive mechanism used in its injector pen for its Lantus® insulin product. The product plus injector was sold as Lantus Solostar®.... Read more

Pharma Claiming Practice Under Fire

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
February 28, 2020

The Federal Circuit has launched an assault on common claiming techniques in pharma and chemical patents. In October 2019 the Federal Circuit issued two opinions, the first was HZNP Medicines[1] involving the limitation “consisting essentially of” and the second, Idenix[2], striking at Markush Groups. This post concerns the HZNP decision. On February 25 the Federal Circuit denied HZNP’s request for a rehearing and rehearing en banc. According the Drug Patent Watch reported there were 244 drug patents using the language “consisting essentially of,” a number which seems low based on my experience.<... Read more

Solicitor General on Patent Eligibility

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
December 16, 2019

The Solicitor General (SG) was invited by the Supreme Court to provide comments on the certiorari petitions filed by Berkheimer and Hikma to review the Federal Circuit's 101 decisions adverse to them. The two briefs have numerous similarities including identifying the Court's decision in Bilski[1]as starting the patent eligibility confusion by not grounding its decision on interpreting the meaning of the 35 U..S.C. 101 terms "process, machine, manufacture, [and] composition of matter." The SG asserts that in Bilski the Court did not ground its decision on the stature terms but instead found three exceptions to be not required by the statutory text: laws of nature, physical phenomenon, and abstract ideas. While these concepts are found earlier Supreme Court decisions, Bilski represented the first time they were used independent of the statutory language or constitutional concept of the "useful arts." The SG then described Mayo[2] as continuing the Court's Bilski practice of not tying patent eligibility to any of the statutory or Constitutional language. Alice[3] characterized the Mayo decisional approach as a two step process.... Read more

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

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
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

Prior Art Introduced During Prosecution Has Important Implications for 101 Challenges

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
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

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
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

An Approach to Pharma Life Cycle Management

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
August 12, 2019

Every innovative pharma company faces the same challenge, how to delay the patent cliff. The existence of the "skinny viii" (21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(2)(A)(viii)) makes developing additional FDA approved indications unattractive from an LCM viewpoint. Such additional indications may allow for market expansion during the life of the patents protecting the original indication but offer no protection once those patents have expired. With a skinny viii the generic seeks approval only for indication with the earliest patent expiration. Formulation patents often provide scant protection because of the possibility of design arounds and being more easily challenged for invalidity since often the original patents are available as prior art... Read more

ATHENA DIAGNOSTICS - THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT AGAIN ABDICATES ITS RESPONSIBILITY

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
July 15, 2019

In denying the petition for rehearing en banc the majority of the Federal Circuit abdicated its responsibility to define the limits of the Supreme Court's Mayo decision. Judge Dyk on the 25th birthday of the Federal Circuit noted that: Frequently, the Supreme Court in patent cases articulates a general principle and leaves it to our court to both administer the rule and apply it to the individual case.... Read more