IP Law Alert Blog

Recently Created USPTO Precedential Opinion Panel to Decide Joinder Issues in First Review

Recently Created USPTO Precedential Opinion Panel to Decide Joinder Issues in First Review

In September, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) revised its Standard Operating Procedures 2, addressing among other things, the new Precedential Opinion Panel and the processes the panel will follow during any review. The newly created panel recently accepted its first case where it will consider issues of party and subject matter joinder as part of a larger review of patentability of patents directed to fracking technology. Proppant Express Investments v. Oren Technologies, IPR2018-00914, Paper 24 (PTAB Dec. 3, 2018). This blog post will provide an overview of the Precedential Opinion Panel and the issues it will address in its first review. USPTO Standard Operating Procedures 2, “sets forth the composition of the Precedential Opinion Panel, describes the mechanisms for invoking Precedential Opinion Panel review of a Board decision recently issued in a pending case, and explains the Precedential Opinion Panel review process.” The panel will typically consist of the USPTO Director, the USPTO Commissioner for Patents, and the Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The resulting decisions will be precedential and have binding authority. Under USPTO procedures, there are three ways to obtain a rehearing from the Precedential Opinion Panel: “The Director may...

Stem Cell Transplant-Related Patent Found Valid Under Alice

Stem Cell Transplant-Related Patent Found Valid Under Alice

In Genzyme Corp. v. Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA) Inc., a Delaware district court recently found two patents directed to methods of mobilizing progenitor/stem cells from bone marrow to the peripheral blood stream for use in stem cell transplantation valid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as being directed to patent-eligible subject matter. The district court utilized the framework articulated in Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347, 2354 (2014), on which we have previously reported here, here, and here, to determine whether the patent claims covered patent-eligible subject matter or were patent-ineligible “[l]aws of nature, natural phenomena, [or] abstract ideas[.]” Under the Alice framework, the court first determines if the patent claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept, and, if so, then considers whether the claims contain an “inventive concept” which “transform[s] the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application.” The district court found that the claims at issue were not directed to any patent-ineligible concept under step one of Alice because they were directed to the patent-eligible concept of “using plerixafor, itself a compound that does not naturally exist, to amplify a natural phenomenon – stem cell mobilization – in an unnatural way.” The...

Need for Close Attention to Proposed Reasonable Royalty Evidence

Need for Close Attention to Proposed Reasonable Royalty Evidence

A recent court decision precluding a patent owner from relying on any of its proffered evidence to support a proposed reasonable royalty rate should be studied carefully by patent owners. See Acceleration Bay LLC. v. Activision Blizzard Inc., C.A. No. 16-00453-RGA, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178362 (D. Del. Oct. 17, 2018). The case underscores how closely courts are evaluating evidence put forward to support a proposed reasonable royalty and the need to carefully vet such evidence (and decide who will present it) early in the case. In Activision, the defendant moved to preclude the plaintiff’s damages theories and supporting evidence. The court granted-in-part defendant’s motion. The plaintiff patentee had sought to support its proposed reasonable royalty rate of 15.5 percent with four pieces of evidence: (1) testimony of its Vice President of Licensing; (2) testimony of its CEO; (3) an industry report; and (4) an agreement between the defendant and a third party. The court precluded all four categories of evidence. First, the court precluded the testimony of the plaintiff’s licensing executive, stating that a reasonable royalty opinion is necessarily based on specialized knowledge, which the executive lacked. The court also found that the executive lacked personal knowledge of the...

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to Promote Innovation in Biotechnology

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to Promote Innovation in Biotechnology

On September 30, 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement in principle to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The pending United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes provisions governing the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. This blog post will cover the IP provisions of the USMCA, particularly as applied to pharmaceuticals and biologics. It’s important to note that the provisions of the USMCA prescribe a minimum requirement, some of which is already met or surpassed by the individual countries’ respective patent regimes. 1. Data protection for biologics Under Article 20.F.14, each country must provide, with respect “to the first marketing approval” of a product that “is or contains a biologic,” protection of undisclosed test or other data concerning the safety and efficacy of the product for “a period of at least ten years from the date of first marketing approval of that product.” This ten-year data exclusivity applies “at a minimum” to “a product that is produced using biotechnology processes and that is, or, alternatively, contains, a virus, therapeutic serum, toxin, antitoxin, vaccine, blood, blood component or derivative, allergenic product, protein, or analogous product, for use in human beings for the prevention, treatment, or cure...

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Finding That CRISPR-Cas9 Inventions Are Patentably Distinct

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Finding That CRISPR-Cas9 Inventions Are Patentably Distinct

The Federal Circuit in Regents of the University of California v. The Broad Institute weighed in on the disputed inventorship of the breakthrough CRISPR-Cas9 technology, holding that the University of California (“UC”)’s invention of the mechanism in vitro did not render obvious Broad’s claims to the mechanism in eukaryotic cells. Gibbons previously reported on the technical background of CRISPR-Cas9. This post will focus on the inventorship issue and the implications of the Federal Circuit decision. In August 2012, UC researchers published an article showing that the CRISPR-Cas9 system, derived from prokaryotic cells like bacteria, could be used in vitro in a non-cellular experimental environment. Several research groups independently applied CRISPR-Cas9 in eukaryotic cells within months of UC’s disclosure. In February 2013, Broad researchers published an article describing the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in a human cell line. Both UC and Broad sought patent protection. UC, the senior party, claims the CRISPR-Cas system without referring to a particular cell type or environment. Broad, the junior party, claims the CRISPR-Cas system limited to use in eukaryotic cells, i.e., plant and animal cells. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) determined there was no interference-in-fact because, given the differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems, a person...

Patent Infringement Defendants’ Attempt to Transfer Venue Thwarted

Patent Infringement Defendants’ Attempt to Transfer Venue Thwarted

In federal cases, venue transfer is permitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice . . . to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.” The defendants in a patent infringement case venued in the District of New Jersey recently failed in their attempt to transfer venue of their cases to the District of Delaware pursuant to § 1404(a). The cases involve the alleged infringement of a patent that covers Suboxone sublingual film for the treatment of opioid dependence. The defendants argued that venue transfer was appropriate based on their consent to venue in Delaware, the discretionary factors outlined in Jumara v. State Farm Insurance, 55 F.3d 873 (3d Cir. 1995), and the first-filed rule. None of these arguments proved successful, as the magistrate judge issued reports and recommendations denying the motions of defendants Dr. Reddy’s, Teva, and Alvogen Pine Brook. And, the district judge affirmed and adopted the magistrate judge’s opinions. After first concluding that venue for the cases was proper in the District of New Jersey pursuant to the patent venue statue,...

Using IPR To Trigger Prosecution Disclaimer

Using IPR To Trigger Prosecution Disclaimer

A recent district court decision found prosecution disclaimer stemming from statements by a patentee distinguishing its inventions from the prior art when opposing inter partes review. See Game & Tech. Co. v. Blizzard Entm’t, Inc., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58424 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 4, 2018). As alleged infringers are increasingly filing petitions for inter partes review of patents asserted against them, the case illustrates how to use statements made by a patentee to oppose inter partes review against them in a related district court patent litigation. In Blizzard Entm’t, Game and Technology Co. Ltd. (GTCO) sued the defendant game developer, alleging that the defendant’s manufacture, sale, and distribution of online games infringed three patents: U.S. Patent No. 8,035,649, 8,253,743, and 7,682,243. After the Court transferred the case from the Eastern District of Texas to the Central District of California, the defendant petitioned for IPR of all patents-in-suit and moved to stay the action pending inter partes review. The Court stayed the case pending inter partes review. In March 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a decision concerning the ‘743 patent, finding all claims unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 103. As to the ‘649 and ‘243 patents however,...

What is “A Regular and Established Place of Business”?: A Case Compendium

What is “A Regular and Established Place of Business”?: A Case Compendium

Since the TC Heartland decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that the “residence” prong in the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), refers only to the state of incorporation and not the definition conferred in the general venue statute, § 1391, parties and courts have focused attention on interpreting the alternative basis for venue under the statute: “where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, 137 S. Ct. 1514, 1516 (2017). Of particular interest is how courts have ruled on what constitutes “a regular and established place of business.” In September 2017, the Federal Circuit clarified that a “regular and established place of business” must meet three general requirements: “(1) there must be a physical place in the district; (2) it must be a regular and established place of business; and (3) it must be the place of the defendant.” In re Cray, 871 F.3d 1355, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2017). First, there must be a “physical place,” i.e., a “physical, geographical location in the district from which the business of the defendant is carried out.” Id. at 1362. The Court defined a...

Surveying the CRISPR-Cas9 Patent Landscape in the United States

Surveying the CRISPR-Cas9 Patent Landscape in the United States

This post will discuss the patent landscape of the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 systems in the United States, including pending legal disputes. A CRISPR-Cas9 system is a combination of protein and ribonucleic acid (“RNA”) that can alter the genetic sequence of an organism. CRISPR-Cas systems occur naturally in bacteria and help the bacteria target and cut identified virus deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”). The CRISPR-Cas9 system is being developed as a powerful tool to modify specific DNA in the genomes of more complicated organisms, including plant and animal cells. For the purpose of this overview, the mechanism of CRISPR-Cas9 is explained in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)’s Broad Institute v. The Regents of the University of California interference decision. As the decision explains, the CRISPR-Cas9 system comprises three effective parts: a guide-RNA sequence, an activator-RNA sequence, and a protein called Cas9. CRISPR-Cas9 alters a target DNA molecule by first binding the guide-RNA sequence to a specific sequence in the DNA of interest. The activator-RNA sequence then interacts with the Cas9 protein, and the Cas9 protein cuts the target DNA at a specific site. By linking a DNA-cutting protein (Cas9) to a specific site on the target DNA, the CRISPR-Cas9 system achieves specific targeted...

Supreme Court To Review Whether Non-Public Sales Are Invalidating Under Post-AIA Section 102

Supreme Court To Review Whether Non-Public Sales Are Invalidating Under Post-AIA Section 102

The Supreme Court recently agreed to review Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., a case with broad implications for the pharmaceutical industry. In the opinion below, the Federal Circuit held that after the America Invents Act (“AIA”), “if the existence of the sale is public, the details of the invention need not be publicly disclosed in the terms of sale” for the sale to be invalidating under Section 102. The Court granted Helsinn’s petition for certiorari to answer “[w]hether, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, an inventor’s sale of an invention to a third party that is obligated to keep the invention confidential qualifies as prior art for purposes of determining the patentability of the invention.” Before the AIA, § 102(b) barred the patentability of an invention that was “patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent.” By enacting the AIA, Congress amended § 102 to bar the patentability of an “invention [that] was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before...