Posts Tagged: "SCOTUS"

Supreme Court Hears Myriad Gene Patent Challenge

If cDNA is patent eligible subject matter, as it seems likely based on the tone of the oral argument, that should be very good news for Myriad. As Justice Breyer recognized during questioning of Mr. Hansen (representing AMP), the Myriad claim says they want “the isolated DNA of claim 1 wherein said DNA has the nucleotide sequence set forth in SEQ ID No. 1.” If you look at SEQ ID No. 1 clearly states that the molecule type is cDNA, thus cDNA seems to be a part of the claim, not to mention that the cDNA used by Myriad was a consensus sequence made from hundreds of different patients. Thus, if cDNA is patent eligible then the Supreme Court must find that at least some genes are patent eligible and must also find the Myriad claims patent eligible. Whether the Supreme Court Justices really captured that nuance remains in doubt. It seemed at times that Justices Sotomayor and Kagan were openly arguing the AMP/ACLU case. Sadly, at times it was apparent that the Supreme Court doesn’t understand even the most basic and fundamental patent law concepts.

Forward Looking Personalized Medicine, Patent Law and Science

Social policy concerns have influenced the AMP v Myriad debate. The Supreme Court, to the extent it must make a ruling for our times, informed by societal context, should dispassionately consider all the available empirical evidence, from the academic work cited here, to the claim scope limits resulting from massive sequence publication projects and recent court cases, and the thriving innovation ecosystem in personalized medicine at and among for profit and not for profits, and render a clear forward compatible decision for us all.

Argument Summary: Supreme Court Hears Bowman v. Monsanto

While one can never know for certain how the Supreme Court will rule, even a casual observer has to conclude that the Supreme Court seems poised rule in favor of Monsanto. Seconds after Bowman’s attorney started Chief Justice Roberts interrupted asking why anyone would ever patent anything if Bowman were to prevail. Shortly thereafter Justice Breyer openly concluded that Bowman infringed in a matter of fact way. It later may have seemed Breyer was probing for a response he didn’t get more so than announcing his view of the case. Nevertheless, if Bowman loses Breyer he has no chance.

Planting Progeny Seeds Without Consent is Patent Infringement

In its amicus brief, CLI responds by arguing that the term “makes,” as used in Section 271(a), has its plain and ordinary meaning, which embraces the concepts of “bringing about” or “causing.” CLI contends that Bowman, through his acts of planting and cultivating, brought about and caused the formation of a next-generation of herbicide-resistant soybeans. Alternatively, CLI argues that, even if the concept of a “making” only literally reaches the acts of the herbicide-resistant soybean plants Bowman cultivated, Bowman would still be liable for those acts under principles of agency-instrumentality law. Based on his acts of planting and cultivating, CLI asserts that Bowman exercised sufficient control over the herbicide-resistant soybean plants he raised that they should be treated as mere instrumentalities of his, the conduct of which can and should be attributed to him.

Refocusing Kirtsaeng Analysis on Extra-Territoriality Principles

The parties and amici have filed over 25 briefs in this case, almost none of which address or even consider whether the actual right granted under Section 109(a)—to “sell or otherwise dispose of” copies—applies outside the United States; instead, they have focused almost exclusively on Section 109(a)’s “lawfully made under this title” preamble, resulting in unsatisfactory readings of the Copyright Act as a whole. As the American Intellectual Property Law Association has urged the Supreme Court in its amicus filing, applying long-standing extra-territoriality principles to the actual right created by Section 109(a) handily harmonizes both Sections 109(a) and 602(a)(1). It also avoids damage to the rest of the Act caused by undue emphasis on the prefatory “lawfully made under this title” language.

Nike v. YUMS: Covenant Not to Sue Prevents Jurisdiction

The Court went to the actual terms of the Covenant to determine if Nike had met this very tough burden burden. In this case, though, Nike did. The terms of the Covenant were unconditional and irrevocable. They prohibited Nike from making any claim or demand, and even went so far as to shield YUMS’ distributors and customers. This coupled with the fact that YUMS did not provide a shred of evidence that it had plans to market a shoe that the Covenant wouldn’t cover was enough to convince the Court that the possibility of future harm was just too remote here.

The Role of Territoriality in Patent Exhaustion

Patent exhaustion is one of the most fundamental restrictions on patent rights. Under this doctrine, an authorized sale of a patented article moves it outside the scope of the U.S. patent monopoly. With respect to the vended article, the patent right is extinguished and the patentee can no longer sue for infringement. One question that remains unsettled, however, is the role of territoriality. That is, where must the authorized sale take place? For well over a century courts have struggled to answer whether extraterritorial sales qualify for purposes of patent exhaustion.

Supreme Court Agrees To Tackle Drug Patent Settlements

In the past several years, the Second, Eleventh, and Federal Circuits have upheld these settlements (known as “reverse payment” agreements since the money flows from the patentee to the alleged infringer rather than the other way around). These courts have focused on the benefits of settling cases and the presumption of patent validity, and they have explained that payments fall within the “scope of the patent.” In contrast, the Third Circuit recently applied more aggressive scrutiny, rejecting the scope test and finding that payments for delay were “prima facie evidence of an unreasonable restraint of trade.”

AMP v. Myriad: SCOTUS Must Remember What Case Is Not About*

As Myriad has correctly pointed out in its brief in opposition to the grant of certiorari, the question posed by the ACLU/PubPat (“Are Human Genes Patentable”) is absolutely the wrong one to answer: “The first question presented [by the ACLU/PubPat] bears no relation to the uncontroverted facts of this case.” (Myriad’s brief in opposition has also pointed out at least 4 other significant factual and legal “misstatements” made in the petition for certiorari by ACLU/PubPat.) As much as the ACLU/PubPat (and others) want to make the Myriad case into about “Who Owns You,” what Myriad has claimed does nothing of the sort. In fact, a “yes” answer to the question posed by the ACLU/PubPat does not automatically lead to Myriad’s claimed “isolated” DNA sequences being patent-ineligible. Those claimed “isolated” DNA sequences are not “genes” by any standard molecular biology definition of what that term actually means. Instead, and as accurately characterized by Judge Lourie, these claimed “isolated” DNA sequences are “novel biological molecules.”

Exclusive Interview: Talking SCOTUS Decision in i4i v. Microsoft

This month I have been running a series of articles on the United States Supreme Court. Today we switch things up a little and talk patents, focusing on one of the most important decisions the Supreme Court has made over the last generation — i4i v. Microsoft. I recently chatted with Michael Cannata. His is a name you might not know, but he was intimately involved in the i4i case. He is the manager of a fund that put up the capital for i4i to fight the battle. He consequently became a Director for i4i and was involved with co-managing the litigation for i4i.

Obamacare and the Supremes, A Patent Attorney’s Perspective

A method to reduce the national debt comprising a “Skinny Jeans Tax” whereby… Does anyone think they look good in skinny jeans? Where on earth are the fashion police when you need them? In any event, those paying the “Fat Tax” certainly wouldn’t be caught dead wearing skinny jeans, and why would anyone who can actually fit into skinny jeans want to demonstrate for all the world to see that they are little more than a frail package of skin and bones? Being too skinny is just as unhealthy, if not even more unhealthy, than being too fat. Because your Congress and President care about you so much they will initiate a “Skinny Jeans Tax” that gives you incentive to eat enough not to look like a fool. This tax comes in two forms. In the “phase in years” it will apply only to those who actually buy skinny jeans. In out years, after fully phased in, it will apply to anyone who could fit into skinny jeans, regardless of purchase or violation of common sense protocols.

Finding a Nut: Supremes Get a Patent Case Right!

Maybe it is the result of the case being of such little importance to the patent system as a whole, or maybe it is just evidence that every blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. Whatever the case may be, the United States Supreme Court yesterday did get it right in a patent case. Virtually no one brings appeals from the Patent Office to the district court under § 145 despite the far more favorable review standard, which we have known about at least since 1999 in Dickinson v. Zurko. § 145 will remain an infrequently used relic of the patent system, and we are left to lament that it would have been far better for the Supreme Court to get Mayo v. Prometheus right than for them to get Kappos v. Hyatt right. Sigh.

Jumping Down the Rabbit Hole: Federal Circuit Ducks the Patent-Eligibility Issue in King Pharmaceuticals

With an opportunity to render some order out of the Bilski chaos, the Federal Circuit instead completely ducked the patent-eligibility issue clearly presented in King Pharmaceuticals. The Federal Circuit then created (and I do mean “created”) the new “an anticipated method claim doesn’t become patentable if it simply includes an informing step about an inherent property of that method” doctrine. With this new “doctrine,” we have now “jumped down the rabbit hole” into a surreal “Bilski in Patentland” world.

Through the Fuzzy Bilski Looking Glass: The Meaning of Patent-Eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101

So now what does SCOTUS’ ruling in Bilski “really” mean to us “mere mortals”? First, we’ve got two “wild cards” to deal with as noted above: (1) Stevens has retired; and (2) what does Scalia’s refusal to join Parts II B-2 and C-2 of Kennedy’s opinion for the Court signify. Some aspects of “wild card” #2 are dealt with above, but as also noted, there are still some aspects which are unclear or at least ambiguous as to how this refusal by Scalia should be viewed. This lack of clarity/ambiguity will require some sorting out by the Federal Circuit, which may come as early as the reconsideration by the Federal Circuit of Prometheus, Classen, or even the appeal in AMP v. USPTO involving the gene patenting controversy. In AMP, District Court Judge Sweet’s invalidity ruling regarding the method claims for determining a pre-disposition to breast/ovarian cancer using the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes relies at least in part upon the “M or T” test which, as noted above, SCOTUS unanimously relegated to “second class” status in Bilski as not the only test for patent-eligibility.

Bilski Watch: Another No-Bilski Day at the Supreme Court

In what is turning into a broken record, the Supreme Court once again did not issue a decision in Bilski v. Kappos. Perhaps we should be thankful that the Supreme Court is taking so long and treating it as the overwhelmingly important case we know it to be. On the other hand, perhaps we should be afraid that the Supreme Court is giving it so much scrutiny. Let’s face it, the Supreme Court has not done much over the last decade to evidence anything other than glib familiarity and vague understanding of patent law. I sure hope they break with that tradition in Bilski.