Safe Harbor (35 U.S.C. 271(e)(1)) and Medical Devices

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
October 13, 2020

In two decisions this year district courts have addressed the “safe harbor” provision of 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1) in motions to dismiss a patent infringement count. The first involved the display of artificial heart valves by Meril Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd. (Meril) at the 2019 Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics Conference (“TCT Conference”) in San Francisco, California. Edwards Life Sciences Corporation (Edwards) asserted that the display infringed its 5 patents on the displayed valves under §§ 271(a) and (g) by importing the valves made using its patented process. Meril defended by asserting that such display was protected by the safe harbor provision. The facts were not favorable. First, Meril did not have a marketing application pending with the FDA. While a pending application is unnecessary there must be evidence that the acts were calculated to lead to the possible submission of such evidence. See Merck KGaA v. Integra Lifesciences I, Ltd., 545 U.S. 193, 202 (2005).    Alternatively, the activity was at least in part to attract clinical investigators for FDA trails. See Telectronics Pacing Systems, Inc. v. Ventritex, Inc., 982 F.2d 1520, 1523 (Fed. Cir. 1992). There was no evidence that defendants  recruited or could have recruited investigators for studies that could be submitted to the FDA. Edwards asserted that Meril’s sole objective was to promote sales in Europe. Thus, Teletronics was deemed irrelevant.<... Read more

Invalidity Based on Enablement: McRO, Inc. dba Planet Blue v. Bandai Namco Games America Inc., et al., No. 2019-1577 (Fed. Cir. May 20, 2020)

Attorney: Marina I. Miller, Ph.D.
September 1, 2020

McRO, Inc. (“McRO”) filed a lawsuit against multiple video game developers (“the Developers”), alleging that the Developers infringed three method claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,611,278 (“the ‘278 patent”), owned by McRO. The district court held the claims invalid for ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, but the Federal Circuit (“the Court”) reversed that holding in McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America Inc., 837 F.3d 1299 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (McRO I). On remand, the district court held that the Developers were entitled to summary judgment of non-infringement, because the accused products do not practice the claimed methods and to summary judgment of invalidity because the specification fails to enable the full scope of the claims. McRO appealed.<... Read more

RCE/National Stage Kerfuffle: PTO Creates a Nightmare Scenario

Attorney: Vincent K. Shier, Ph.D.
August 6, 2020

Much has been written lately about the USPTO's recent enforcement of its controversial interpretation of filing Requests for Continued Examination (RCE) in National Stage applications (i.e., applications under 35 U.S.C. §371) where the oath/declaration was not filed prior to filing the RCE. This post will not address the legal merits of the USPTO's position.... Read more

A Diagnostic Patent Is Found Patent Eligible At the Federal Circuit

Attorney: Richard D. Kelly
August 4, 2020

In March the Federal Circuit reversed a lower court decision finding Illumina’s patents (U.S.Ps. 9,580,751 and 9,738,931) for diagnosing Down’s Syndrome to be patent ineligible, 952 F.3d 1367 (Fed. Cir. 2020). On August 3, the Federal Circuit denied a petition for rehearing and rehearing enbanc but did issue a new decision adding the term “human-engineered” in several portions of the opinion discussing the separation of fetal DNA from maternal DNA which the inventors had discovered were of different sizes, fetal cell DNA is shorter than the maternal DNA. The inventors recognized that the DNA to be analyzed for genetic aberrations was that of the fetus. The problem was to isolate the small amount of fetal DNA from the maternal DNA so the fetal DNA could be analyzed for genetic aberrations. Prior to the invention there was no known way to distinguish and separate maternal DNA from the tiny fraction of fetal DNA present. The inventors found that by selectively removing DNA having more than 500 or 300 base pairs they could produce a sample where the fetal DNA content in the sample would be enriched and analyzed. The following claim is exemplary:<... Read more

An Automated Notification System for Providing Advance Notification of the Pickup or Delivery of Goods was Found Patent Ineligible

Attorney: Marina I. Miller, Ph.D.
July 20, 2020

Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC (“ECT”) sued ShoppersChoice.com, LLC (“ShoppersChoice”), alleging that ShoppersChoice infringed claim 11 of U.S. Patent 9,373,261 (“the ’261 patent”). The district court granted ShoppersChoice’s motion for judgment on the pleadings that claim 11 was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. ECT appealed. The Federal Circuit (“the Court”) affirmed the judgment of the district court.<... Read more

Requirements Under COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program

Attorney: Marina I. Miller, Ph.D.
June 8, 2020

The USPTO has launched a new Covid-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program to help small and micro entities. The USPTO will accept requests for prioritized examination of up to 500 qualifying patent applications without requiring payment of certain fees associated with prioritized examination. Under this pilot, the USPTO will advance out of turn certain patent applications related to COVID-19 for examination, resulting in their prioritized examination. The USPTO aims to provide final disposition of patent applications in the pilot in one year or less after it grants prioritized status. <... 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

"A Method of Preparation" and Patent Eligibility Under Section 101

Attorney: Marina I. Miller, Ph.D.
March 30, 2020

Before LOURIE, MOORE, and REYNA, Circuit Judges. Illumina, Inc. and Sequenom, Inc. ("Illumina") filed suit against Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., Roche Sequencing Solutions, Inc., and Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. ("Roche") alleging infringement of U.S. Patents 9,580,751 and 9,738,931. Roche moved for summary judgment that the asserted claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The district court granted Roche's motion holding that the claims of the '751 and '931 patents were directed to ineligible subject matter. Illumina appealed. The Federal Circuit ("the Court") reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings.... Read more

Patent Eligible Method of Treatment/Prevention Claim

Attorney: Yuki Onoe
March 23, 2020

特許適格性を満たす治療/予防方法クレーム の例<... Read more

Not-So-Safe Harbor for Hospira's Erythropoietin Biosimilar

Attorney: Lisa M. Mandrusiak
December 19, 2019

This week the Federal Circuit affirmed Amgen's win against Hospira with respect to Hospira's erythropoietin ("EPO") biosimilar—a drug used to increase red blood cell number—in a Delaware trial where Amgen's U.S. Patent No. 5,856,298 was found to be infringed and not invalid and Amgen was found to be entitled to $70 million for damages associated with its EPO drug Epogen®. Part of the appeal was also dedicated to examining the so-called Safe Harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1), where the Federal Circuit agreed with Amgen that Hospira manufactured at least 14 batches of the drug that were not protected by this provision. The Court's decision provides lessons in how companies should be careful to avoid stretching the bounds of the Safe Harbor provision... Read more