Eight is Enough: Eight important patent cases for Spring 2005

There are lots of great cases on the Federal Circuit’s spring calendar.  Several cases pending at either the Federal Circuit or Supreme Court that are ‘worth a special look,’ according to Hal Wegner.  Here are some highlights of Mr. Wegner’s list, with my own comments.

  • Merck v. Integra, Supreme Court decision by June 27, 2005.
  • LabCorp v. Metabolite, petition for cert submitted, Supreme Court has requested Solicitor General’s Opinion on Cert.  The case involves a patentability question — whether Metabolite’s patented method of detecting vitamin B deficiency should be invalid as "because one cannot patent laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas." 
  • Purdue Pharma v. Endo, CAFC heard oral arguments in early November on the question of whether patentee’s conduct was ‘inequitable’ for failing to disclose that results used to establish patentability were prophetic rather than experimental. A decision is expected soon.
  • SmithKline Beecham v. Apotex, awaiting decision on petition for rehearing.  This case now revolves around the question of whether use of an invention to confirm utility for FDA approval is an ‘experimental use’ that saves a patent from anticipation under 102(b).
  • Phillips v. AWH, awaiting en banc decision on claim construction methodology.
  • Eolas Technologies v. Microsoft, Federal Circuit decision awaited, hopefully discussing the scope of 271(f). The upcoming appeal of AT&T v. Microsoft presents the same ‘golden master disk‘ scenario as Eolas, and will become important if Eolas is decided on other grounds.
  • Independent Ink v. Illinois Tool Works, In January, the CAFC determined that, in an antitrust tying case, a patent presumptively defines the relevant market as the nationwide market for the patented product itself.  There is some potential for cert in this case.
  • NTP, Inc. v. Research in Motion, Ltd., there is a good chance for a rehearing in this case involving RIM’s BlackBerry product.  This case will be important in defining extraterritorial application of U.S. patent laws in the modern era of networked computing systems.
  • In re Fisher is not yet on the CAFC calendar.  In this case, the BPAI affirmed a rejection for lack of utility and enablement (101 and 112 p1) because the specification lacked a specific teaching of a substantial utility.  According to the decision, without a specific teaching of substantial utility, then virtually all chemicals would meet the requirements of section 101 as at least "useful in research."

Although not patent litigation, Sarah Stirland (one of the few reporters focusing on intellectual property) at the National Journal has written a nice article regarding the potential for legislation in the 109th Congress.

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