April 26, 2018 is a remarkable date: first it’s World IP Day celebrating IP around the world. Second, and this is unique, the British IP Minister Sam Gyimah MP announced that the UK ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPC Agreement). By doing so the UK agreed to be bound to both the UPC agreement and the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities (PPI). The UPC will be a court common to the contracting member states within the EU having exclusive competence in respect of European Patents and European Patents with unitary effect.
In a big day for inter partes review (IPR) at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court issued two opinions, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC et al. and SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu et al.
A federal district court in New York recently held that embedded tweets could violate the exclusive right to display a copyrighted image. In 2016, Plaintiff Justin Goldman snapped a photo of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, with Boston Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge. Goldman then uploaded the photo to his Snapchat Story. The image went viral, making its way onto Twitter, where it was uploaded and re-tweeted by several users. From there, media outlets and blogs published articles which featured the photo by embedding the tweets on their webpages. Goldman sued the media outlets for copyright infringement.
On June 27, 2017, the U.S. Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (Board) decisions in three interference proceedings between the Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) (Case No. 2015-2011).
Competing inventors at Stanford and CUHK developed methods for diagnosing aneuploidies—conditions characterized by an abnormal number of chromosomes (e.g., Down’s Syndrome and Turner’s Syndrome)—using maternal blood samples. Maternal blood contains very small amounts of fetal DNA, and maternal blood sampling is far less invasive than previous methods of sampling fetal DNA. Competing inventors developed techniques for detecting the fetal DNA in maternal blood.
A Stanford application was filed in 2007 with claims to analyzing certain “target sequences” of fetal DNA. A CUHK application, published in 2009, described a “random sequencing” method. This method uses a massively parallel sequencing (MPS) technique that does not require use of “target sequences.” After the CUHK application published, Stanford cancelled its original claims and replaced them with claims to sampling “randomly selected” DNA fragments using MPS. The 2007 Stanford application had disclosed that “the Illumina [DNA] sequencing platform” could be used to perform MPS.
Both Stanford and CUHK requested interferences before the Board to determine who invented the random sequencing method. CUHK claimed that, in 2011, Stanford saw CUHK’s claims to random MPS, and changed its application to claim that technique. CUHK moved to have Stanford’s claims held unpatentable for lack of written description support for random MPS. The Board found that Stanford’s specification disclosed “targeted” rather than “random” MPS, and would not have indicated to one of ordinary skill in the art that the inventor was in possession of the claimed random MPS method. It held Stanford’s claims unpatentable for lack of written description.
The Federal Circuit, inter alia, vacated the Board’s decision, stating that the Board erred in analyzing written description, and remanded the case. The Circuit first found the Board erred by relying on CUHK’s expert testimony and several publications discussing a DNA sequencing platform that differed from the Illumina platform. The Circuit further stated that the Board erred because “the Board’s task was to determine whether the [Stanford specification’s] written description discloses random MPS,” “not whether the description does not preclude targeted MPS.” Finally, the Circuit stated that the Board failed to compare specific sentences and phrases referencing the sequencing process of the Stanford specification to the Stanford claims, e.g., the specification phrase “using the attachment of randomly fragmented genomic DNA.”
On remand, the Circuit instructed the Board to examine whether a person of ordinary skill in the art would have understood that the Stanford specification disclosed random MPS sequencing, as opposed to whether the specification did not preclude targeted MPS sequencing. Specifically, it instructed the Board to determine whether a person of ordinary skill would have known, as of the Stanford priority date, that the reference to Illumina products meant random MPS sequencing as recited in the claims, by examining pre-filing date factual record evidence.
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided Sandoz Inc., v. Amgen Inc., on Monday June 12, 2017, construing the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA). The Court held: (1) that the patent dance is not enforceable by injunction under Federal law, and (2) that a biosimilar applicant’s 180-day “notice of commercial marketing” can be provided before FDA approval. (See Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc., Nos. 15-1039 and 15-1195, slip op. and our IP Alert Sandoz v. Amgen—Biosimilars at the Supreme Court—Oral Argument.)
The Charging Bull has been an iconic New York City landmark since it was placed outside the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989 in an act of guerrilla art. Despite initially being removed, the statue’s popularity caused it to be relocated to Bowling Green days later, where it has since remained, on loan to the New York City Council. Earlier this year, on the eve of International Women’s Day, Charging Bull was joined at Bowling Green by a second guerrilla-art installation, sculptor Kristen Visbal’s four foot statue titled Fearless Girl, who stares defiantly at the Charging Bull.
The artist behind the Charging Bull, Artutro Di Modica, claims that the placement of Fearless Girl is an insult to the Charging Bull and that her placement is ‘attacking the bull’. The competing interests of the artists raise interesting questions in intellectual property law, specifically regarding Di Modica’s ‘moral rights’. Does the Fearless Girl have reason to fear impending intellectual property litigation? Or will the Charging Bull have to accept the new kid on the block?
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By: Sophie Taylor
All nine U.S. Supreme Court justices heard argument on Wednesday April 26th, in Sandoz Inc., v. Amgen Inc. The Supreme Court is reviewing interpretations of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Wednesday’s arguments focused on four main issues:
- whether the FDA could preliminarily grant licensure prior to the expiration of the 12 year statutory period;
- whether the notice of commercial marketing requires official licensure to be made;
- whether the “patent dance” was required by the BPCIA; and
- whether state law could be used to enforce compliance with the “patent dance” elements of the BPCIA.
Industry watchers hope that the Supreme Court will streamline the process for getting biosimilars to market by providing increased certainty.
To read the full alert, click here.
By Nigel Lokan
In the matter of CSR Building Products Limited v. United States Gypsum Company¹ the Australian Patent Office has heard and decided the first patent opposition in which the provisions of the IP Laws Amendment Act 2012 (Raising the Bar Act) apply.
The Raising the Bar Act introduced a number of changes to the Australian patent legislation with the intent of raising the standard required to support the grant of a patent and to bring Australia’s patent laws into line with those of its major trading partners. The Raising the Bar Act applies to all patent applications for which a request for examination was filed on or after 15 April 2013.
On 7 October 2015, the High Court of Australia (High Court) issued its decision in the long running dispute concerning Myriad Genetics, Inc.’s (Myriad) patent relating to an isolated nucleic acid coding for mutant or polymorphic BRCA1 polypeptide. Mutations in the BRCA1 gene can serve as indicators of a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
In a unanimous decision, the High Court found that claims directed to the isolated nucleic acid are invalid on the basis that they are not a ‘manner of manufacture’ and therefore not patentable subject matter. The High Court took the view that the claimed invention would extend the scope of the concept of “manner of manufacture” and that this was not something which was appropriate for courts to do. In light of the High Court’s decision, it will be interesting to see whether there is a legislative response to this issue.
The U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been a potent tool for combatting copyright infringement on the Internet. Section 512 shields Internet service providers from liability if they expeditiously remove content after copyright owners submit takedown requests notifying the ISP of infringing content. Last week, in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., the Ninth Circuit held that copyright owners must consider fair use before sending takedown notices, or they could face liability for damages.
This decision cautions copyright owners to take a closer look at infringing content and document their fair use analysis before submitting takedown requests. An intensive investigation is not required and the fair use analysis may not be correct, but the copyright owner must have a good faith belief that fair use does not apply.