One more Federal Circuit decisions bites the dust. Today, in SCA Hygiene Products AB v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, the Supreme Court held that the equitable doctrine of laches (undue delay) cannot be invoked as a defense against a claim for damages brought within the 6-year statute of limitations of s. 286. The Court reasoned that the “hard and fast rule” established by Congress was intended to more effectively promote timely suits, than a “case specific judicial determination.” This decision has a copyright equivalent in Petrella v. MGM, Inc. where the Court held that laches could not preclude a claim for damages brought within the 3-year statute of limitations period.
Although scheduled to be the honored guest at a “Fireside Chat” at the AUTM Annual Meeting Sunday evening, Ms. Lee was a no show. Suddenly the picture on the Program Board was Katherine Ku, head of Tech Transfer at Stanford.
A source highly placed in AUTM told your editor that Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross had shut down all travel by USPTO officials until the Trump administration decides what their IP policy stance will be. Interestingly, Ms. Lee was described as “Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the [USPTO]”. Is the former “title” what she is operating under now and the “Director” title what she hopes is in the future? Your guess remains as good as mine.
Yesterday, the PTAB in interference 106,048 issued a short order finding no interference- in- fact between the claims of 12 Broad Institute patents (US Patent Number 8,697,359 et al.) and the application held by The Regents of the University of California (Application Number 13/842,859). The full 51 page Decision was released on February 15, 2017. Although California (Berkeley) filed first, and was the Senior Party, the Judges found that the California claims were essentially limited to gene-editing in bacteria, and that it was not reasonably predictable that the technology would work in mammals and plants. (ed. note: My words, the detailed reasoning for the short order was not explained by the Board.)
On Wed., February 8, 2017, IPO released the report of its legislation task force. Unlike the hundreds of academic analyses of the legislative history of s. 101 – and this report includes another – the Task Force took the further necessary and nervy step of proposing amendments to s. 101 to blunt the impact of the Mayo/Alice rules: