On August 3, 2020, the Federal Circuit (Judges Lourie, Moore, and Reyna (dissenting)) (“the Court”) granted a petition for panel rehearing and issued a modified opinion (“Mod. Op.”) that maintained its prior patent-eligibility determination in Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., Case No. 19-1419.  Specifically, the modified majority opinion again held that the challenged claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,580,751 (the “’751 patent”) and 9,738,931 (the “’931 patent”), generally directed to methods of preparing cell-free fetal DNA from maternal blood for genetic analysis, are not invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as directed to a natural phenomenon under the Alice/Mayo test, and are differentiated from other cases where the Court held claims ineligible.
Continue Reading Method Claims Relying On A Naturally-Occurring Phenomenon Are Patent-Eligible Where They Recite “Human-Engineered Parameters”

In a decision denying institution of inter partes review rendered on February 5, 2020 , the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) stated “there is no general rule that efficacy language in a claim is non-limiting.” Gilead Sciences, Inc. v. United States, IPR2019-01455, Paper 16 at 26.  The decision held, inter alia, that whether efficacy language in a claim should be given patentable weight is a fact-based inquiry that includes examining the application as whole and the patent record.  Id. at 26, 30.  When the claims at issue have been granted in a patent that issued from a continuation application, the patent record includes that of the parent patent (e.g., and, if applicable, any grandparent) or parent patent application.
Continue Reading PTAB States “There is No General Rule that Efficacy Language in a Claim is Non-Limiting”

In the chemical and biological arts, it is common for patent challengers to allege obviousness based upon prior art disclosures of ranges combined with “routine optimization” by one skilled in the art.  In E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Synvina C.V., No. 17-1977 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 17, 2018), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s (“Board”) final written decision upholding Synvina’s U.S. Patent No. 8,865,921 (“’921 patent”) as non-obvious, in response to du Pont’s inter partes review (“IPR”) challenge on such grounds.  In particular, in E.I. du Pont, the Court found that the patentee failed to demonstrate that 1) the claimed range produced a new and unexpected result, different in kind and not merely in degree from the prior art, 2) the optimized parameter was not recognized as a result-effective variable, 3) the disclosure of broad ranges did not invite more than routine optimization, or 4) that the prior art taught away from the range.
Continue Reading Obviousness of Overlapping Ranges – The Burden-Shifting Framework Applies to Inter Partes Review: E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Synvina C.V.

At the end of a week shortened by the Memorial Day holiday, the PTAB (“Board”) issued just two decisions in Technology Center (TC) 1600 during the week of May 28.  The Pfizer decision hammers home that hindsight is not always 20/20, and there is no place for such bias in an obviousness analysis, while the shorter Roquette Freres decision serves to remind us of the old adage ‘mean what you say and say what you mean.’
Continue Reading Hindsight Is Not 20/20: PTAB Technology Center 1600 Decision Round-Up: Week of May 28 – June 1, 2018