Battle of the Biologics: Lilly's IPRs Clear Six Teva Patents

Attorney: Lisa M. Mandrusiak
March 5, 2020

Several companies have received FDA approval for antagonist antibodies against calcitonin gene-related peptides. These so-called anti-CGRP biologic drugs are a relatively new type of injectable medication for preventing migraines without side effects.<... 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

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

Attorney: Todd W. Baker
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

Attorney: Grace Kim
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

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

The Flip Side of Reasonable Expectation of Success is Unpredictability

Attorney: Daniel J. Pereira, Ph.D.
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

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

Non-Limiting Clauses and Written Description Based on Substantially Equivalent Disclosure

Attorney: Daniel J. Pereira, Ph.D.
August 16, 2019

Nalpropion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v Actavis Laboratories FL, Inc (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2019) is a precedential opinion written by Judge Lourie with Judge Wallach and a dissent from Judge Prost in a case centered on an ANDA litigation in which Actavis sought approval for their generic version to Nalpropion's patents for the Contrave® product. Footnote 1 in the opinion outlines the rather complex history of the ownership/license interests as they changed over time.... Read more

Four Decisions Designated Informative on 101: Positive Trend for Life Sciences?

Attorney: Lisa M. Mandrusiak
July 2, 2019

In January, 2019, the USPTO issued new guidance about what constitutes an abstract idea that is ineligible for protection under Section 101. Among other things, the guidance emphasized that claims otherwise reciting a judicial exception (i.e., not patentable), would be permitted if they were directed to some type of practical application. See our previous post for more details.... Read more


Category: PTAB 101