On Monday, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the well-publicized Assn. For Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, et al. case (“Myriad”) for the purpose of vacating the underlying Federal Circuit decision — finding isolated DNA sequences from human genes as patentable subject matter — and remanding the case for reconsideration in view of its recent ruling in Mayo Collaborative Services, et al. v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. (“Mayo”).
Gibbons P.C. will once again sponsor lunch at the upcoming Rutgers University/Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for Pharmaceutical Management Studies Program on Thursday, October 27, from 12:00 – 1:00 pm at Rutgers Business School – Newark.
The Federal Circuit’s Myriad Genetics decision, Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 99 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1938 (Fed. Cir. 2011), which invalidated most of the method claims in the patents at issue, brings to mind a concern about the value of method claims, particularly to the pharmaceutical industry. The Myriad Genetics patents at issue included two types of method claims relating to human genetics: one involved determining whether a female patient had abnormal BRCA1/2 genes by comparison of BRCA1/2 gene and BRCA 1/2 RNA from the patient’s tumor sample to those from a non-tumor sample; the second was an activity screening method for anticancer drugs that compared the growth of a host cell transformed with a cancer-causing BRCA gene in the presence and absence, respectively, of the test compound.
The Federal Circuit recently found that intervening rights can apply to a claim that has been narrowed by argument only during a reexamination. In Marine Polymer Technologies, Inc. v. HemCon, the Federal Circuit recently found that narrowing a claim by argument only changes the substantive scope of the claim for purposes of intervening rights. Specifically, a claim term that is changed during reexamination without changing a word in the claim can still substantively narrow the scope of a claim. Therefore, upon reissue of the patent, an infringer would have “… absolute intervening rights with respect to products manufactured before the date of reissue.”
On Tuesday, September 6, 2011, the Senate invoked cloture on H.R. 1249, also known as the America Invents Act, making it almost a done deal for passage of this Act. One reason that this bill has succeeded over its predecessors is that, with one major exception, there is little difference between the House and Senate versions. The passage of H.R. 1249 will mark the culmination of a 6-year process to pass patent reform legislation that started with H.R. 2795
Several bills are currently pending in Congress establishing expedited marketing approval pathways for biosimilar drugs. The proposed pathways are analogous to the pathway for small molecule chemical drugs established by the passage of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984, commonly referred to as the Hatch-Waxman Act. The Hatch-Waxman Act includes a data exclusivity provision whereby the FDA is prohibited from approving a competitor’s drug application relying on the innovator’s data for a statutory period of time. Recent debates concerning the biosimilar bills have focused on the data exclusivity period. These debates highlight the differences between biological drugs and small molecule chemical drugs and why a longer exclusivity period may be necessary to fill the “patent protection gap.”