Archive for the ‘Patentable Subject Matter’ Category

Myriad vs. Mayo – Detection vs. Processing at the Fed. Cir.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

iStock_000005967663_SmallRapid Litigation Mgmt v. CellzDirect: Splitting Detection of a Natural Phenomenon from its Application to Yield a Product.

Courtenay G. Brinkerhoff at summarized the oral arguments at the Fed. Cir. (App. No. 15-1570) conducted on April 5, 2016 in Rapid Litigation Mgmt Ltd. v. CellzDirect, Inc. (You can download an MP3 of the oral arguments here.) The district court invalidated claims directed to a method for isolating hepatocytes that can survive more than one freeze-thaw cycle as a patent-ineligible law of nature (US Pat. No. 7,604,929):

1.    A method of producing a desired preparation of multi-cryopreserved hepatocytes….comprising:

(A)  Subjecting hepatocytes that have been frozen and thawed to density gradient fractionation to separate viable hepatocytes from non-viable hepatocytes,

(B)  Recovering the separated viable hepatocytes, and

(C)  Cryopreserving the recovered viable hepatocytes to thereby form said desired preparation of hepatocytes without requiring a density gradient step after thawing the hepatocytes for the second time, wherein the hepatocytes are not plated between the first and the second cryopreservations, and wherein greater than 50% of the hepatocytes of said preparation are viable after the final thaw.


Genetic Technologies Affirms Ariosa/Myriad With An Introduction By The Sequenom Petition for Cert.

Monday, April 11th, 2016

iStock_000067055603_SmallOn April 1st, Lilly filed an amicus brief in favor of Sequenom’s petition for cert. seeking to reverse Ariosa, that caused a lot of buzz in the IP community. (A copy is available at the end of this post.) To summarize, it argued that the courts’ attempts to interpret and define the judicial exceptions to s. 101 patent-eligibility was leading them to an unwarranted expansion of these policy-driven exceptions that threaten concrete technological advances that would otherwise be eligible for patent protection under the patent statute. In other words, the brief argued that the proper application the strictures of ss. 102 (requirement for physicality), 103 (inventiveness), 112(a)(WDR) and (f)(means plus function claiming) are sufficiently developed so that the court should abrogate the judicial exceptions that presently exclude what I will refer to as PAIN (phenomena of nature, abstract ideas and natural laws). (I checked that definition of “abrogate” and it does mean “do away with or to abolish by formal of official means.”)

I have written numerous posts in the last six years about the rise in importance of the written description requirement, as well as the evolution of s. 103 and I am willing to accept Lilly’s arguments. For example, the s. 102 requirement for novelty is sufficient to guard against issuance of patents on natural phenomena like fire, since fire is in the prior art. Pure concepts like blocking the NF-kB signaling  pathway to treat a condition ameliorated by blocking the NF-kB pathway would fail the written description requirement. Mental steps are permissible in a claim, but the claim cannot be entirely mental steps or disembodied functional language (See 112(f)). (This brief is worth reading just for its discussion of the mental steps doctrine at pages 18-21.)


Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Merck – Mayo/Alice Rule Reaches Medical Treatment Methods.

Friday, April 1st, 2016

In Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Merck, Civil Action No. 150572-GMS (D. Del., 2016), Bristol-Myers sued Merck for inducing infringement of U.S. Pat. No. 9,073,994. Claim 1 reads:

“A method of treating a metastatic melanoma comprising intravenously administering an effective amount of a composition comprising a human or humanized anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody [and a carrier] to a human with the [cancer], wherein the administration of the composition treats the [cancer] in the human.”

It would be hard to write a more straightforward method of medical treatment claim. Merck moved for dismissal of the Complaint on the basis that it could not infringe a patent that is facially invalid under s. 101:

“According to Merck, [the patent] is directed to a natural phenomenon and the patent claims do not transform such natural phenomenon into a patent-eligible invention because the claims contain no inventive concept. Merck asserts that the ‘994 patent claims that the natural phenomenon is the body’s own mechanism for regulating the immune system… Merck claims the [patent] recites no inventive contribution beyond the natural phenomenon itself.”


Superman Breyer v. Batman Lourie Battle in the Sequenom Petition for Cert.

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

iStock_000087208111_SmallSince this is an amplification of my last post on the Sequenom petition for cert. in Sequenom v. Ariosa, please go back at read my first post on the petition. I have been arguing for some years that the patent world will never be at rest where diagnostic claims are concerned until the patent eligibility of a simple “If A, then B” claim is addressed by the Fed. Cir. and/or the Supreme Court.

This is the type of claim criticized by Justices Breyer, Souter and Stevens in the “Metabolite Labs dissent” of 2006, when the Court declined to decide the patent-eligibility of a method of detecting a deficiency of cobalamin or folate by assaying a body fluid for an elevated level of homocysteine and correlating the elevated level with a cobalamin or homocysteine deficiency.” Justice Breyer just called the claim a law of nature with a mental step.

Fast forward to 2012 and the Mayo decision (132 S.Ct. 1289), and the Supreme Court invalidated an awkwardly drafted claim that I will re-write here as a method of medical treatment claim: