Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak again with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN regarding last week’s oral arguments in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. In the interview, I share some quick observations on the oral arguments and offer my thoughts why I believe the Justices will “split the baby” with their ruling.
The transcript for today’s Supreme Court oral argument in The Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., No. 12-398 (2013) has been released, and the importance of the gene patenting debate to personalized medicine was discussed. The Court was well briefed on the issues and questioned the parties and U.S. government regarding why isolated genes should or should not be patent-eligible, the distinctions between DNA probes or primers and claims to full length sequences (isolated genomic DNA and cDNA) and the difficulty in crafting a test that would exclude broadly claimed inventions under Section 101 of the patent act rather than limiting broadly claimed inventions as failing under Section 102 (novelty) and/or Section 103 (obviousness). Continue reading this entry
Petitioners (The Association for Molecular Pathology et al., represented by the American Civil Liberties Union or ”Petitioner” or “ACLU”) filed their brief with the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday urging the Court to reverse the Federal Circuit’s decision and the USPTO’s decades long practice of granting patents on isolated DNA. Similar to their arguments in all prior briefings, the Petitioners argue that the patents issued to Respondent Myriad Genetics, Inc. et al. (“Myriad”) were erroneously issued because they claims products of nature. Petitioner also applied the Supreme Court’s Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012)(“Mayo”). A copy of the brief is attached [MyriadPetitionersMeritsBrief].Continue reading this entry
Patenting diagnostic methods is more challenging in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U.S. __ (2012) (Prometheus) and the USPTO’s application of the decision, as set forth in its Guidance Document distributed to patent examiners. Patent examiners are advised to follow the Guidance Document in examining a process claim (e.g., medical method claim) in which a law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or naturally occurring relation or correlation (collectively referred to as a natural principle in the Guidance Document) is a limiting element or step. Thus, a medical diagnostic claim that correlates or relates to a genetic marker or physiological measurement (typical in personalized medicine) is subject to the Guidance Document as the claim necessarily includes an element interpreted by the USPTO as a natural principle. Continue reading this entry
Following up on my post examining the Myriad gene patenting case, which is heading to the Supreme Court, I had the chance to discuss the subject with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN. In the interview, I discuss the legal and commercial issues at the core of the controversy, and whether or not genes are indeed patented.
On November 30th, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court will conference and consider whether to review the patent-eligibility of isolated DNA sequences. Our prior post of September 25, 2012 addressed Petitioners’ brief and request for review of the Federal Circuit’s decision that upheld the patent-eligibility of isolated DNA. On October 31st, 2012, Myriad Genetics, Inc. et al. responded and filed its brief in opposition to Supreme Court review (see our post of November 14, 2012). Seven “friend of the court” briefs were filed in support of Petitioners’ request for review and reversal of the Federal Circuit’s decision.
On October 31, 2012, Myriad Genetics, Inc. et al. (“Respondent” or “Myriad”) filed its brief in opposition to Petitioners’ (The Association for Molecular Pathology et al., represented by the American Civil Liberties Union or “ACLU”) quest for U.S. Supreme Court review in the ongoing legal battle over whether isolated DNA is patent-eligible subject matter. Myriad argued that U.S. Supreme Court review is not warranted, and that if it is, the question for the Supreme Court is not whether human genes are patentable, but whether isolated DNA molecules that were identified and defined by human inventors are patent-eligible subject matter in the United States. Continue reading this entry
The ACLU and PUBPAT issued a press release today announcing that they are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review the U.S. Federal Circuit’s decision upholding the patent-eligibility of isolated DNA . The release announces in part:
“The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate patents for two genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer that allow a Utah company to control access to crucial genetic tests that could lead to life-saving treatment.”
A copy of the petition is attached [Cert. Petition].
The biotechnology industry, including those investing in personalized medicine, have been waiting for the Federal Circuit’s decision that answers the questions whether isolated DNA and use of the isolated material are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. As reported in our August 16th post, the same three judges (Lourie, Bryson and Moore) held that isolated DNA and cells transformed with the DNA are patent-eligible. Claims that broadly claim detecting alterations in a gene, in this case the BRCA1 gene, were held to be patent-ineligible. The Ass’n for Molecular Pathology et al. v. USPTO, et al., No. 2010-1406 (Fed. Cir. 2012). In addition, the court determined that the plaintiffs had standing to maintain the action. This decision validates that the tools (DNA and isolated naturally occurring materials) underlying personalized medicine are still patent-eligible. Moreover, the court’s evaluation of the claimed methods are informative to those seeking to patent medical diagnostic tests because the court compared and contrasted a patent-ineligible claimed method to a patent eligible one.Continue reading this entry
Today, in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., No. 2010-1406 (Fed. Cir. 2012), the Federal Circuit held that non-naturally occurring DNA is patent eligible as well as the use of a transformed, non-naturally occurring cell for screening drug candidates. Myriad’s method claims directed to “comparing” or “analyzing” DNA sequences were held to be patent-ineligible. A copy of the Federal Circuit’s decision is attached Federal Circuit Myriad Decision. A detailed analysis by Foley & Lardner, LLP and this blog post will follow.
Advances in information technology, such as high-performance computing, enables the collection, analysis and sharing of information between patients and medical providers. Computer technology makes possible the sequencing and analysis of huge data sets of genomic information. It also connects clinical and genomic information to support personalized health care. As a result, life science companies and health care providers are incorporating hardware and software into the delivery of healthcare and the management of patient information. These technologies are patentable as business methods, provided the technologies satisfy the criteria for patentability: patent-eligibility, novelty, non-obviousness and adequacy of disclosure.Continue reading this entry
On July 20th, 2012, the parties in the Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., No. 10-1406 (Fed. Cir. 2011)(also known as the “ACLU gene patenting” case) argued (again) before the Federal Circuit. Recall, the U.S. Supreme Court had asked the court to reconsider its prior ruling as to the patent-eligibility of claims to isolated DNA, in light of its unanimous decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., No. 10-1150 (S. Ct. 2012) (“Mayo”). In Mayo, the U.S. Supreme Court held that that certain diagnostic inventions cannot be patented under 35 USC Secion 101 because they effectively claim a law of nature.Continue reading this entry
The USPTO has just issued guidelines for its patent examining corps to assist them in determining whether a process claim is patent-eligible in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U.S. __ (2012) (“Prometheus”) decision. A copy of the guidance document (“Guidance Document”) is attached. [2012_interim_guidance] The examiners are advised to follow the Guidance Document in examining process claims in which a law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or naturally occurring relation or correlation (collectively referred to as a “natural principle” in the Guidance Document) is a limiting element or step. The revised procedure is effective as of its date of issuance, July 3, 2012.Continue reading this entry
June 15th, 2012 was the deadline for the parties and interested parties to file briefs in the controversial ACLU gene patenting case (see our post of March 26th, 2012), remanded to the Federal Circuit after the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 566 U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012) (“Prometheus”) decision which held that certain claims to medical methods are not patent-eligible for failing to satisfy 35 U.S.C. § 101. On June 12th, Eli Lilly and Company (“Lilly”) filed an amicus brief that urged the Federal Circuit to review the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Prometheus as it applies to multi-step process claims. Lilly’s amicus brief, filed in support of neither party, argued that new test is required to simplify the line between patent-eligible and ineligible subject matter, as [i]t is as best intellectually challenging to meaningfully apply the tripartite exclusions from patenting for laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas.” The issue of whether or not the DNA claims are patent-eligible, the most contentious issue in this proceeding, was not briefed by Lilly. Rather, in footnote 1 of the brief, Lilly stated that only the appealed process claim is addressed because Prometheus “appears to be irrelevant to the manifest patent-eligibility of man-made materials that are nowhere to be found as such in nature.”Continue reading this entry
The Canadian Patent Office released today practice guidelines regarding the patent-eligibility of medical diagnostic methods and medical methods. The practice guidance are in effect immediately and until further notice, and in place of any contrary guidance presently in the Canadian Manual of Patent Office Practice (MOPOP, the Canadian equivalent to the US MPEP, setting forth examination criteria for patent applications).
The guidance document indicates that many diagnostic methods can be thought of as comprising two distinct aspects: data acquisition steps and data analysis steps. A claim often contains one or more data acquisition steps, such as a step for determining, measuring, identifying, assaying, etc. which may be implicit or explicit. Diagnostic methods are patentable before the Canadian Patent Office if the claim describing the method satisfies all the requirements of patentability, i.e., novelty, inventive, useful, sufficiently disclosed and unambiguously defined and contains an inventive concept that is statutory.
In order to be patentable, the inventive concept of the diagnostic method claim must provide a solution to a technical problem and either have physical existence or manifest a discernible effect or change. If the claim includes at least on step of physically acquiring data from an analyte (such as a substrate, marker, tissue, body, for example) then the inventive concept is statutory. However, where a known analyte had been previously assessed using the same or similar technique to those in the claim, the inventive concept may therefore be limited to the significance, understanding or interpretation of the acquired data. In these situations, the claim is not statutory because the inventive concept is limited ot the interpretation of the acquired data.
The guidance also emphasizes that medical methods are not statutory in Canada, while medical use claims are permitted, as long as do not equate to medical or surgical methods and they satisfy all other requirements of patentability.
For patent-eligibilty, the inventive concept of a medical use claim must provide a solution to a technical problem and have either physical evidence or manifest a discernible effect or change. If a claim to a medical use includes a dosage regime or range for the purpose of defining patentability, the inventive concept does not need to include that dosage regime or range if the use itself meets all the requirements for patentability. In contrast, if the inventive concept requires a dosage regime or range, then the inventive concept is considered to be a methods of medical treatment, and therefore not patent-eligibility.
Similarly, where the inventive concept necessary to support patentability only serves to instruct a medical professional “how” or “when” to treat a patient, rather than “what” to use, this may not be patent-eligible as the claim would encompass a method of medical treatment.
Prometheus’ Claims in Canada
As those in the medical industry reconsider US patent strategies in light of Prometheus and the expected US PTO guidance for examiners for medical diagnostic methods, (see our posts of March 20, 2012 and March 25, 2012), the patenting of similar technologies in other jurisdications is of concern as global patenting strategies adopt to the uncertainty of the application of Prometheus by the US PTO.
Canada’s recent guidance appears to follow the US Supreme Court holding that such claims are not patent-eligible for failing to claim a patent-eligible method.
The “determining” step of the Prometheus claims was stated by the US Supreme Court to add nothing of signficance to the art, and merely told doctors to engage in well-understood, routine, conventional activity previously engaged in by scientists who work in the field. In interpretating the “determining” element under the Canadian guidelines, the inventive concept would be limited to significance, understanding or understanding of the acquired data (as stated by the “wherein” clause of the claim) because the element was previously assessed using the same or equivalent analytical techniques known in the art.
The “wherein” clause would also fail to rescue the claim under the Canadian guidelines as it could be argued to be an expression of the understanding of the discovery of the significance of the acquired data.
Finally, the “administering” step also was admitted to be known to those in the art and could be precluded from the claim in Canada as being directed to claiming a method of medical treatment.
However, if a diagnostic method is tied to the use of a therapeutic and that use would meets all the other requirements of patentability then the claim is more likely to possess the requisite inventive concept. In addition, if the “determining” step of the claim utilizes analytical techniques unknown to the skilled artisan, the claim is more likely patent-eligible.
A copy of the practice guidelines is available here.
This post is co-authored by Antoinette F. Konski and Jacqueline D. Wright Bonilla
The U.S. Supreme Court entertained oral argument today in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. The case is being closely monitored by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, and in particular those in the industry that patent diagnostic methods and companion diagnostics. At its core, the case addresses whether certain patent claims directed to diagnostic methods or methods of optimizing therapeutic efficacy for treatment recite patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
On November 2, 2011, England’s highest court issued an important decision, Human Genome Sciences v. Eli Lilly, relating to biotechnology and claims directed to genes in particular, and consequently personalized medicine. Interestingly, claims at issue in this U.K. case are very similar to the type of compositions claims at issue in the U.S. Myriad “gene patenting” case. See our previous posts on Myriad, such as our August 9, 2011 post. Specifically, in both cases, claims relate to “isolated DNA” encoding a particular amino acid sequence.
That said, the U.K. case resolves around whether the patent is valid under the requirement that an invention be “susceptible of industrial application” under Articles 52 and 57 of the European Patent Convention (the EPC). This EPC requirement mirrors the U.S. “utility” requirement under 35 U.S.C. §101, rather than subject matter eligibility under §101 at issue in Myriad. The U.K court reversed the lower court to find that HGS’s patent satisfied the industrial application requirement.
For those of you closely following Assn. Molec. Path. et al. v. USPTO et al., otherwise known as the Myriad “gene patenting” case, you already know that both sides petitioned the Federal Circuit for a rehearing by the three-judge panel (not en banc), albeit for different reasons. Specifically, on August 25, 2011, on behalf of Plaintiffs/Appellees, the ACLU filed a Petition for Panel Rehearing on the merits, while Myriad/Appellant filed its own Petition for Panel Rehearing on the standing issue four days later. Both parties filed petitions in response to the precedential decision by the Federal Circuit on July 29, 2011. The latest update is that yesterday, September 13, 2011, the Federal Circuit denied ACLU’s petition, although we still await word on Myriad’s petition.
On August 31, 2011, the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Classen Immunotherapies, Inc. v. Biogen Idec (App. 2006-1643, -1649), a patent case of significant interest to the personalized medicine industry. As with the Prometheus case, this case addresses patent-eligibility of certain types of method claims. The Federal Circuit decided Classen on remand from the Supreme Court after Bilski v. Kappos (U.S. 2010). The Federal Circuit previously issued a first decision in Classen in 2008. The original panel, comprising Circuit Judges Newman and Moore and District Judge Farnan (sitting by designation), held in a one paragraph, non-precedential decision authored by Judge Moore that Classen’s claims failed to satisfy 35 USC § 101.
This time around, the Federal Circuit takes a closer look at Classen’s claims, and determines that two of the three Classen patents at issue are directed to patent-eligible subject matter under 35 USC § 101.
Subject Matter Patent-Eligibility of Isolated DNA and Diagnostic Methods Addressed Head-on
On Friday, July 29, 2011, in one of the most controversial and publicized biotech patent cases in recent years, the Federal Circuit decided the “ACLU/Myriad” gene patenting case, formally known as Assn. Molec. Path. et al. v. USPTO et al. In a majority opinion by Judge Lourie, the court addressed the case on the merits, after finding that at least one plaintiff had standing to sue. The court held all “isolated DNA” claims at issue patent-eligible, but held as patent-ineligible diagnostic method claims that in effect recited only “comparing” or “analyzing” DNA sequences. While this ruling could ultimately be subject to en banc review before all judges at the Federal Circuit and/or find its way to the Supreme Court, this decision now and its impact will undoubtedly be of great interest to everyone working in the biotechnology and diagnostic medicine fields.
Today, in a short but sweet statement, the Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari in Prometheus v. Mayo, 628 F.3d 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (finding method claims relevant to personalized medicine patent eligible) (petition for cert. filed March 2011).
As discussed in our previous Personalized Medicine Bulletin post, parties once again petitioned for certiorari in the Prometheus case, after the Federal Circuit addressed this case (for the second time) in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski v. Kappos (2010). Because of the importance of this case to the personalized medicine industry, claims at issue in Prometheus bear repeating here. Representative claims include:
Even for patent attorneys who specialize in personalized medicine, confusion still exists as to the best way to pursue and enforce diagnostic method patent claims in light of patent eligibility considerations under 35 U.S.C. §101. While the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit have provided some guidance regarding patent eligibility of certain method claims, details of how to proceed when drafting relevant claims, and which existing diagnostic method claims are viable, remain unclear to many.
It is possible that the Federal Circuit and/or Supreme Court may provide additional direction in cases yet to be decided. Such cases include the AMP et al. v. USPTO et al. (Myriad) “gene patenting” case (pending at Federal Circuit after oral argument on April 4, 2011), Classen Immunotherapies v. Biogen IDEC (pending at the Federal Circuit after remand by the Supreme Court in 2010) and Prometheus Labs., Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs. (awaiting decision by Supreme Court on certiorari petition-again).
In the meantime, patent attorneys glean what they can from cases decided before and after Bilski v. Kappos (2010), such as In re Grams (Fed. Cir. 1989), Justice Breyer’s dissent from dismissal of the grant of certiorari in Lab. Corp of America Holdings v. Metabolite Labs., Inc. (2006), as well as the most recent Federal Circuit decision in Prometheus Labs., Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs. (Fed. Cir. 2010) (albeit cert. pending at Supreme Court).
While such pending and decided cases are not an exhaustive list of ones that may impact patent eligibility of diagnostic method claims, it is informative to look at claims at issue in these cases. Below provides a brief summary of representative claims, and what the courts have said about them so far.