I did not pay much attention to the fairly recent panel decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Teva Pharma. USA, 757 F.3d 967 (Fed. Cir. 2014). It seemed like a fairly routine panel affirmance of the district court’s finding that Bristol-Myers’ patent (5206244) on the nucleoside analog entecavir was obvious in view of a structurally similar nucleoside analog, 2′-CDG. The unexpected results asserted by B-M had been found insufficient to overcome a strong case of structural obviousness.
But when the IPO made the decision to file an amicus brief supporting B-M’s petition for rehearing en banc, my prep/pros radar sounded a warning and I read both the brief closely and the original opinion more closely. [A copy of the opinion and brief can be found at the end of this post.]
The district court found that the POSA would have been motivated to select 2′-CDG as the closest prior art molecule and to make the relatively small structural modifications required to arrive at entecavir, summarizing the law (correctly): “Obviousness, and expectation of success, are evaluated from the perspective of a person having ordinary skill in the art at the time of invention [e.g., the filing date of the B-M patent].”