Innogenetics v. Abbott Labs (Fed. Cir. 2008).
Innogenetics holds a patent covering a method of detecting Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) using hybridizing probes complementary to the 5’ untranslated region of HCV. The patent was found infringed and not invalid.
On appeal, Abbott follows the currently favored “kitchen sink” approach:
On appeal, Abbott challenges a myriad of issues, including the district court’s claim construction [of the word “as”], summary judgment of literal infringement, evidentiary exclusions as to Abbott’s obviousness and anticipation defenses, judgment as a matter of law that the Resnick patent did not anticipate claim 1 of the ’704 patent, summary judgment of no inequitable conduct, award of attorney’s fees to Innogenetics for Abbott’s counterclaim of inequitable conduct due to its exceptionality, and grant of a permanent injunction.
The appellate panel patiently discussed each issue. Here, we only discuss a few:
Infringement by Later-Invented Technology: Abbott proposed that it could not infringe because its particular “Realtime PCR” method of detecting HCV had not yet been invented at the time of the patent application. Although the CAFC held that Abbott had procedurally forfeited that argument, the appellate body also noted that the argument is “lacks merit.”
Essentially, Abbott argues that a patent can never be literally infringed by embodiments that did not exist at the time of filing. Our case law allows for after-arising technology to be captured within the literal scope of valid claims that are drafted broadly enough. See SuperGuide Corp. v. DirecTV Enters., Inc., 358 F.3d 870, 878-80 (Fed. Cir. 2004).
Late Disclosure: Abbott disclosed a prior art reference (the Cha patent) the day before discover closed (and after all depositions had been completed). Then, on the day before trial, Abbott requested that the jury instructions be amended to include the Cha patent as an anticipatory reference. The district court denied Abbott’s motion as unduly late and prejudicial to Innogenetics. On appeal, the CAFC affirmed — taking Abbott to task for its hard litigation tactics.
This case aptly demonstrates the pitfalls of playing fast and loose with rules of discovery. Conclusory expert reports, eleventh hour disclosures, and attempts to proffer expert testimony without compliance with Rule 26 violate both the rules and principles of discovery, and the obligations lawyers have to the court. Exclusion and forfeiture are appropriate consequences to avoid repeated occurrences of such manipulation of the litigation process.
Anticipation: The kitchen sink tactic worked — The CAFC did agree with Abbott that its expert’s testimony on anticipation had been improperly disregarded. The district court had disregard the testimony – finding that the expert had based his conclusions on an incorrect understand of the claim term ‘genotyping.’ On appeal, the CAFC used its own knowledge of biotech law to find that the district court’s findings on this issue were ‘clearly erroneous.’ Consequently, Abbott gets a new trial on the issue of anticipation.
Injunctive Relief: The plaintiff agreed to jury instructions that would allow the jury to award both past and future damages. The award of $7 million appeared to include both past and future damages. In addition, the court issued an injunction to halt future infringement. On appeal, the CAFC held that the plaintiff was improperly double-dipping — a patentee may not collect a lump-sum for future damages and, at the same time, be awarded injunctive relief to stop future infringement.
The reasonable royalties awarded to Innogenetics include an upfront entry fee that contemplates or is based upon future sales by Abbott in a long term market. When a patentee requests and receives such compensation, it cannot be heard to complain that it will be irreparably harmed by future sales. . . . As a result, the district court’s grant of an injunction prohibiting future sales of Abbott’s genotyping assay kits was an abuse of discretion and must be vacated.