The inventor of a novel jump rope system (the Revolution Rope), Molly Metz, is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court through her company, Jump Rope Systems, LLC, to seek clarification of the collateral estoppel doctrine as applied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) to bar a patent infringement suit in district court where the CAFC has affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding of unpatentability. Jump Rope Systems is arguing that the CAFC’s decision in XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. (2018) conflicts with the Supreme Court decisions in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., 575 U.S. 138 (2015); Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC, 571 U.S. 191 (2014); and Grogan v. Garner, 498 U.S. 279 (1991).
The United States Solicitor General (SG) on Wednesday accepted the U.S. Supreme Court’s invitation to file an amicus brief regarding Amgen’s petition for certiorari in its case against Sanofi. Amgen is seeking review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC’s) decision invalidating antibody patent claims based on a lack of enablement for genus claims. The High Court invited the SG to file a brief in April and, on September 21, the SG recommended that the Court deny the petition and said Amgen’s argument that the CAFC “erred by treating enablement as a question of law and by examining the full scope of the claims in assessing whether they are fully enabled…. lack merit.”
Novartis Pharmaceuticals announced today that it will appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC’s) June decision invalidating its patent for a dosing regimen for its multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya to the U.S. Supreme Court, after the CAFC denied its request to rehear the case. The CAFC in June vacated a different three-judge panel’s January opinion upholding Novartis’ U.S. Patent No. 9,187,405. In the original ruling, Chief Judge Moore had dissented from the majority; in the rehearing, Moore authored the opinion vacating the January decision, with Judge Linn dissenting.
Last year, there was a great amount of confidence among those in intellectual property circles that the U.S. Supreme Court might finally provide some much-needed clarity to Section 101 subject matter patentability after a petition for writ of certiorari was filed in American Axle v. Neapco Holdings. On the second day of IPWatchdog LIVE 2022, panelists at the breakout session titled “Where Do We Go From Here on Patent Eligibility After American Axle” discussed what opportunities were left for fixing patent eligibility law after the Supreme Court denied cert in that case.
The petitioner in a case challenging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that affirmed a Texas court’s dismissal of copyright claims over Texas A&M’s unauthorized reproduction of portions of his manuscript filed a reply brief Monday, arguing that the opposition provides “no escape hatch… for states’ particularly egregious intellectual property violations.” Michael Bynum, a sports writer and editor, and publishing company Canada Hockey L.L.C., doing business as Epic Sports, said that the Texas Attorney General’s August 19 brief in opposition was “bristling with aggressive and controversial legal positions” and that the Fifth Circuit’s decision “undermines federal copyright protection from state predation.”
While Prince might have written the song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Sinéad O’Connor transformed the tune, made it her own and it became a mega hit. In a similar vein, photographer Lynn Goldsmith took a photograph of Prince in 1981 that artist Andy Warhol used as a basis for his 1984 “Prince Series” silkscreen prints. Did Warhol infringe Goldsmith’s copyright by using her photograph as the basis for his prints or was his work sufficiently transformative to be protected as “fair use”? That is the question at the heart of the case that the United States Supreme Court will hear in its fall 2022 term. This case may prove to be the most significant Supreme Court fair use case to date.
On August 19, British brand name pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing a petition for writ of certiorari filed by generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals. Teva’s petition appeals a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reinstating a jury verdict that found Teva liable for inducing infringement of GSK’s patents covering the heart failure treatment, Coreg. GSK’s brief argues that the Federal Circuit properly applied the law on induced infringement and that the “skinny label” arguments raised by Teva’s petition only affect 30% of the damages awarded by the jury in the case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in a precedential decision issued today, affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding that claims to a computer system for identifying eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are invalid as patent ineligible. The opinion was authored by Judge Chen. The case originates from an examiner’s rejection of Jeffrey Killian’s claims of U.S. Patent Application No. 14/450,042 under Section 101 as being directed to “the abstract idea of ‘determining eligibility for social security disability insurance . . . benefits’” and lacking anything “significantly more” to satisfy Step 2 of the Alice-Mayo two-part test.
On August 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Click-to-Call Technologies LP v. Ingenio, Inc. finding in part that, as a matter of law, Ingenio was estopped from challenging the validity of a patent claim on grounds it could have reasonably challenged during inter partes review (IPR) proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Although the impact of this precedential holding will likely be limited due to the “unusual procedural posture” of this case, which involves a partial IPR institution prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in SAS Institute, the Federal Circuit’s decision does underscore the circuitous nature of PTAB proceedings that often add many years to patent lawsuits filed in U.S. district court.
The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is set to hear Andy Warhol v. Lynn Goldsmith in October. It will be the latest in a series of cases the Court has taken on over the last decade-plus that promise to change U.S. innovation as we know it. The case will be heard on the heels of other controversial SCOTUS decisions that have drastically changed the legal landscape, with rulings that transfer power from the federal government to the individual states (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) or that reduce federal oversight altogether (West Virginia v. EPA). It has also put limits on specific executive powers and plans to rule soon on affirmative action. Not getting as much attention, but arguably equally important, are some recent and not-so-recent decisions that have changed the landscape of the rights of authors and inventors, and the upcoming Warhol case, which may effectively remove them altogether. Unfortunately, many people, including politicians and academics, don’t understand—or refuse to recognize the importance of—intellectual property rights for the advancement of civilization.
On August 5, US Inventor and Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund (Eagle Forum ELDF) jointly filed an Amicus Brief supporting inventor David Tropp’s petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) regarding whether Tropp’s method claims are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. Tropp owns two patents relating to luggage lock technology that enables airport screening of luggage while still allowing the bags to remain locked. In July, just days after the Court denied cert in American Axle, Tropp asked the High Court to answer the question: “Whether the claims at issue in Tropp’s patents reciting physical rather than computer-processing steps are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101, as interpreted in Alice Corporation Pty v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014).”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today, in a precedential decision, revisited its 2020 holding that the doctrine of assignor estoppel bars Minerva Surgical, Inc. from challenging the validity of Hologic Inc.’s patent directed to a device for treating a uterus. The decision comes on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, which vacated the 2020 ruling and returned it to the CAFC for further consideration of the Justices’ determination that the doctrine of assignor estoppel comes with certain limits. The Supreme Court ruled in June 2021 that assignor estoppel—which bars the assignor of a patent from later attacking the patent’s validity—“is well grounded in centuries-old fairness principles…[but] applies only when the assignor’s claim of invalidity contradicts explicit or implicit representations he made in assigning the patent.” Thus, while the Court rejected Minerva’s request that the doctrine be abandoned, it vacated the CAFC’s 2020 judgment and remanded the case to address “whether Hologic’s new claim is materially broader” than the ones that were assigned.
June Cohan, Senior Legal Advisor in the Office of Patent Legal Administration at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today explained to attendees of an event about the Office’s patent eligibility guidance that there are no plans to revise the guidance in light of the denial of certiorari in American Axle. She also acknowledged several areas of “divergence,” or “outlier cases,” between the USPTO and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit (CAFC) approaches to determining patent eligibility which the Office has no plans for revising, despite the fact that the CAFC is the reviewing court for the USPTO.
The only president ever to obtain one, Abraham Lincoln knew the essential role patents have played in the scientific and technological innovations that have driven American growth and prosperity since the founding of the republic. Lincoln listed the development of patent laws—along with the invention of writing and the discovery of America—among the most important events in world history. Patents have “peculiar value…in facilitating all other inventions and discoveries,” he said in a speech in 1858. Giving inventors exclusive use of their inventions for a limited time, “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.” What was true a century and a half ago remains true today. But a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is threatening to bank the fire and limit the inventions of the future. Last August, a three-judge Circuit Court panel invalidated Sloan Kettering’s patent for its CAR T-cell cancer immunotherapy and overturned the $1.2 billion awarded Sloan Kettering and its partner and exclusive licensee, Juno Therapeutics, after a jury trial found Kite Pharma had infringed upon the patent. The court, en banc, refused to reconsider the ruling.
This morning, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, which would amend the U.S. Patent Act to clarify the application of 35 U.S.C. Section 101 to certain technologies. While the bill was welcomed by many in the intellectual property (IP) community, since it would abrogate or weaken many of the seminal decisions that have arguably caused confusion on eligibility over the last decade-plus, some have called the bill out as being far from perfect. Questions remain with respect to the text’s language regarding the definition of “technological” and what it means for software patents, for instance, as some commenters note below.