Posts Tagged ‘patents’

Justice Breyer to Diagnostic Test Patentees – “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”

Friday, April 29th, 2016

danteKevin Noonan recently posted an article entitled “The Fantastical World of Justice Stephen Breyer” that demonstrates, via Breyer’s quotes during various oral arguments, his suspicion that the patent system is, for example, issuing broad, hard to understand, claims that lead to “national monopolies” and encourage trolls to  harass “small businessmen.” Breyer certainly appears to be leading the court in this area – he authored Mayo after all. No matter what Dr. Noonan thinks about his rhetoric, his anti-patent bias is clear, and has been for some time.

Noonan’s article encouraged me to re-read Breyer’s dissent from the Court’s refusal to decide whether or not the diagnostic claim at issue in Laboratory Corp. of Amer. Holdings v. Metabolite Labs., Inc. was patent-eligible under s. 101. (Breyer’s “Metabolite Labs. Dissent.”) (A copy can be found at the end of this post.) This remand occurred in 2006. The Fed. Cir. was still using the “useful, concrete and tangible result” test of State Street Bank, which morphed into the machine or transformation test by the time Bilski was decided. Both “tests” were urged to be applicable to the diagnostic claim at issue, but Breyer found no transformation recited in the claims and no precedent in the u-c-t test.

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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 pharmapatentsblog.com 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.

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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:

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Sequenom Files Petition for Cert. After Invalidation of Cff Patent

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

supreme-courtSequenom, the loser in “Ariosa,” has filed a petition seeking Supreme Court review of the Fed. Cir.’s invalidation of the claims of US Pat. No. 6,258,540 as an attempt to claim a natural product, cffDNA. While there is no dispute among the commentators that this decision was flat-out wrong, the majority of the panel seemed to agree that it was compelled by the “Mayo/Alice Rule” (after they spotted the natural product, cffDNA, and ignored the other claim steps as conventional). (A copy of the Petition can be found at the end of this post.)

As previously noted by me, this is not a great case to settle the issue of whether or not claims based on biomarkers are patent-eligible. All of the claims on appeal, except for claim 21, are simply directed to methods for detecting cffDNA in a maternal serum or plasma sample. These claims are as patentable as a method of testing transgenic potatoes for the level of the precursor to acrylamide – a carcinogen that you do not want in your chips. The claim is a method claim, even if the precursor enzyme is a natural product. Even the ACLU in Myriad argued that, while a new method of mining gold would be patentable subject matter, a gold nugget is not.

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