Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Drugs & Biotech
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Epinephrine (adrenaline), a hormone that has been on the market since approximately 1938, is used for various medical purposes. It degrades by racemization and oxidation. A 1986 publication taught that “there is an optimum pH at which racemization and oxidation can be balanced to minimize loss of intact drug by these two routes.” In 2012, Belcher submitted New Drug Application (NDA) for a 1 mg/mL injectable l-epinephrine formulation. The NDA was literature-based; Belcher did not perform any studies on its epinephrine formulation. Belcher responded to FDA inquiries concerning pH levels and racemization. In 2014, Belcher filed an application entitled “More Potent and Less Toxic Formulations of Epinephrine and Methods of Medical Use,” resulting in the 197. Hospira then submitted an NDA seeking approval of a 0.1 mg/mL injectable l-epinephrine formulation, including a Paragraph IV certification (21 U.S.C. 355(b)(2)(A)(iv)) alleging that the patent’s claims are invalid, unenforceable, and/or not infringed. Belcher sued Hospira for infringement.The Federal Circuit affirmed a finding that the patent was unenforceable for inequitable conduct. Belcher’s Chief Science Officer withheld material information about the pH range and the impurity levels from the Patent and Trademark Office. Belcher’s alleged critical improvement over the prior art was already within the public domain, just not before the examiner. Belcher’s officer acted with intent to deceive. View "Belcher Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Hospira, Inc." on Justia Law

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T cells, white blood cells that contribute to the immune response, have naturally occurring receptors on their surfaces that facilitate their attack on target cells (such as cancer cells) by recognizing and binding an antigen, i.e., a structure on a target cell’s surface. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy involves isolating a patient’s T cells; reprogramming those T cells to produce a specific, targeted receptor (a CAR) on each T cell’s surface; and infusing the patient with the reprogrammed cells. Juno’s patent relates to a nucleic acid polymer encoding a three-part CAR for a T cell. It claims priority to a provisional application filed in 2002, at “the birth of the CART field.” Kite’s YESCARTA® is a “therapy in which a patient’s T cells are engineered to express a [CAR] to target the antigen CD19, a protein expressed on the cell surface of B-cell lymphomas and leukemias, and redirect the T cells to kill cancer cells.”Juno sued, alleging infringement. The district court held that the claims were not invalid for lack of written description or enablement, the patent’s certificate of correction was not invalid, and Juno was entitled to $1,200,322,551.50 in damages. The Federal Circuit reversed. No reasonable jury could find the patent’s written description sufficiently demonstrates that the inventors possessed the full scope of the claimed invention. View "Juno Therapeutics, Inc v. Kite Pharma, Inc." on Justia Law

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Teva's patents are directed to methods of using humanized antagonist antibodies that target calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP is a 37-amino acid peptide that is “a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and has been shown to be a potent vasodilator in the periphery, where CGRP-containing neurons are closely associated with blood vessels. Dilation of blood vessels was associated with and thought to exacerbate the symptoms of migraine. The challenged patents describe “anti-CGRP antagonist antibodies and methods of using anti-CGRP antagonist antibodies for treating or preventing vasomotor symptoms, such as headaches, such as migraine.” Lilly asserted that each challenged claim would have been obvious over a combination of prior art references.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board first construed the claims, including the preambles and the term “effective amount,” then analyzed prior art, concluding that Lilly failed to prove that the challenged claims would have been obvious over the stated references. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the Board erred by reading a result into the constructions of the preambles and the term “effective amount,” which led to erroneously requiring Lilly to prove that a skilled artisan would have expected to achieve results that are unclaimed and that, even if the preambles are limiting and the claims require administration of an antibody with an expectation of results, the Board applied too high a standard in determining whether a skilled artisan would have had a reasonable expectation of success. View "Eli Lilly & Co. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals International GMBH" on Justia Law

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Teva’s patents, directed to methods of using humanized antagonist antibodies that target calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a 37-amino acid peptide that is “a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and has been shown to be a potent vasodilator. Dilation of blood vessels was associated with and thought to exacerbate the pain symptoms of migraine. Lilly filed petitions for inter partes review (IPR).In three IPR proceedings, the Board issued a combined final written decision holding that the challenged claims in all three patents are unpatentable as they would have been obvious over various cited references and that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine the teachings of the prior art and would have had a reasonable expectation of successfully achieving the claimed invention. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Teva’s arguments that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board erred as a matter of law in its motivation to combine analysis by deviating from the motivation asserted by Lilly in its IPR petitions, that even under the motivation to combine that the Board did analyze, substantial evidence does not support the Board’s factual findings, and that the Board erred in its analysis of secondary considerations of nonobviousness View "Teva Pharmaceuticals International GmbH v. Eli Lily & Co." on Justia Law

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PacBio’s patents describe methods for sequencing a nucleic acid, such as DNA, using nanopore technology. PacBio sued Oxford for infringement. Before trial, the district court granted PacBio’s motion “to prevent [Oxford] from using ‘pejorative’ terms (such as ‘non-practicing entity,’ ‘NPE,’ and ‘paper patents’), stating “it would be inappropriate to put before the jury evidence or argument about the potential impact of a verdict in favor of PacBio— such as higher prices or slower medical research.”A jury found all asserted claims infringed but also determined that they are invalid under 35 U.S.C. 112 for lack of enablement. The district court upheld the verdict on enablement and denied PacBio’s request for a new trial because of Oxford’s improper opening remarks that included references to the potential applications of its accused products to the then-emerging global COVID-19 crisis. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The record supports the legal conclusion that the disclosures of the patents, even combined with the knowledge of relevant artisans, required undue experimentation to enable the full scope of the relevant claims. The court reasonably denied a new trial, given PacBio’s own conduct and references to COVID-19, and its successful request for no more than curative instructions. View "Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. v. Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Janssen challenged Customs and Border Protection’s classification of Janssen’s product darunavir ethanolate, the active ingredient in Prezista®, is a medication for the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) and the Pharmaceutical Appendix to the Tariff Schedule. Customs had applied subheading 2935.00.95, “Sulfonamides: Other: Drugs: Other,” for a duty rate of 6.5 percent ad valorem, Janssen alleged that it has paid approximately $100 million in duties for entries of darunavir ethanolate that should have received duty-free treatment. The Trade Court concluded that the subject merchandise was properly classified under HTSUS subheading 2935.00.60 and subject to duty-free treatment under the Pharmaceutical Appendix. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The court held that darunavir ethanolate was properly classified under HTSUS subheading 2935.00.60 because it belongs to the sulfonamides class or kind of organic compounds. View "Janssen Ortho, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Stanford’s 925 application is directed to methods and computing systems for determining haplotype phase--an indication of the parent from whom a gene has been inherited. Improved haplotype phasing techniques “promise[] to revolutionize personalized health care by tailoring risk modification, medications, and health surveillance to patients’ individual genetic backgrounds.” Achieving the understanding necessary to accomplish those goals requires “interpretation of massive amounts of genetic data produced with each genome sequence.” The 925 application describes a method for receiving genotype and pedigree data and processing the data by performing mathematical calculations and statistical modeling to arrive at a haplotype phase determination.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in rejecting the claims as patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 because they are drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling, and similar subject matter that is not patent-eligible. Claim 1 recites no steps that practically apply the claimed mathematical algorithm; instead, claim 1 ends at storing the haplotype phase and “providing” it “in response to a request.” Simply storing information and providing it upon request does not alone transform the abstract idea into patent-eligible subject matter. View "In Re Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University" on Justia Law

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Bayer’s patent is directed to recombinant forms of human factor VIII (FVIII), a protein that is produced, and released into the bloodstream, by the liver. In Bayer’s suit, alleging that Baxalta’s biologic product Adynovate® infringes certain claims of the patent, a jury found that the asserted claims were enabled and infringed, and that Bayer was entitled to reasonable-royalty damages. The district court did not send the question of willful infringement to the jury, holding as a matter of law that Baxalta’s conduct did not meet the requirements for willfulness.The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Baxalta’s challenges to the district court’s construction of the claim term “at the B-domain” and its interpretation of the word “random” in its construction of the claim term “an isolated polypeptide conjugate.” The court upheld the district court’s judgments of infringement and enablement as supported by substantial evidence, along with the court’s awards of damages and pre-verdict supplemental damages. Even accepting Bayer’s evidence as true and weighing all inferences in Bayer’s favor, the record is insufficient to establish that Baxalta’s “conduct rose to the level of wanton, malicious, and bad-faith behavior required for willful infringement.” View "Bayer HealthCare LLC v. Baxalta Inc." on Justia Law

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Elevated LDL cholesterol is linked to heart disease. LDL receptors remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream; the PCSK9 enzyme regulates LDL receptor degradation. Amgen’s 165 and 741 patents describe antibodies that purportedly bind to the PCSK9 protein and lower LDL levels by blocking PCSK9 from binding to LDL receptors. Amgen sued Sanofi, alleging infringement of multiple patents, including the 165 and 741 patents. Amgen and Sanofi stipulated to infringement of selected claims and tried issues of validity to a jury.The court granted judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) of nonobviousness and of no willful infringement. Following remand, a jury again found that Sanofi failed to prove that the asserted claims were invalid for lack of written description and enablement. The district court granted Sanofi’s Motion for JMOL for lack of enablement and denied the motion for lack of written description. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Undue experimentation would be required to practice the full scope of these claims, which encompasses millions of candidates claimed with respect to multiple specific functions. It would be necessary to first generate and then screen each candidate antibody to determine whether it meets the double-function claim limitations. View "Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi, Aventisub LLC" on Justia Law

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Vectura sued GSK in 2016, alleging direct infringement of claim 3 of the 991 patent, which concerns the production of “composite active particles” for use in pulmonary administration, such as in dry-powder inhalers. The composite active particles described in the patent consist of additive material that is adhered to particles of the active ingredient. The active ingredient produces the desired chemical or biological effect, while the additive particles promote the dispersion and delivery of the active ingredient into the lungs when the inhaler is activated.The Federal Circuit affirmed holdings that the patent was infringed and not invalid. The court rejected arguments that Vectura failed to present substantial evidence that the accused inhalers use additive material that “promotes the dispersion” of the active material, that the district court’s construction of the term “composite active particles” was erroneous, that there were flaws in the calculation of the royalty proposed by Vectura’s damages expert, and that Vectura made prejudicial references to GSK’s sales and advanced an improper “pennies on the dollar” argument in comparing Vectura’s royalty request to GSK’s sales. View "Vectura Ltd. v. GlaxoSmithKline, LLC" on Justia Law