Coalition for Affordable Drugs IPR against Juxtapid gets “green light”

The Coalition for Affordable Drugs, the entity backed by patent renegades Kyle Bass and Erich Spangenberg, recently won two more victories at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).  This time Bass and Spangenberg obtained favorable inter partes review (IPR) institution decisions on two petitions filed against the University of Pennsylvania, which challenged patents covering Juxtapid. Juxtapid is a drug that slows cholesterol production thereby making it easier for the body to remove remaining cholesterol from the bloodstream. To read these institution decisions see IPR2015-01835 and IPR2015-01836. Because the Board did not find it necessary to construe claim terms at the institution stage, both decisions are mirror images of one another.

The patents in question, U.S. Patent No. 7,932,268 and U.S. Patent No. 8,618,135, relate to “the surprising discovery that one may treat an individual who has hyperlipidemia and/or hypercholesterolemia with an MTP inhibitor in a manner that results in the individual not experiencing side-effects normally associated with the inhibitor, or experiencing side-effects to a lesser degree.”

Ultimately, the Board determined that the petitioner demonstrated that the claims challenged were likely invalid because they were obvious. The case will now proceed through the administrative trial. There were, however, several issues that came up in the institution decision that warrant consideration.

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Supreme Court will decide whether BRI or Phillips standard applies to IPR claims

During patent examination, pending patent claims are given the broadest reasonable interpretation (“BRI”) that is consistent with the specification, as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. See Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

The Patent Office applies the broadest reasonable interpretation in virtually all circumstances. It is, however, true that at least one situation where the Patent Office does not use broadest reasonable interpretation is when a reexamination of a patent is undertaken and reexamination will not be concluded until after the patent term has expired. The position of the USPTO is that, in this situation, a patent could not be changed because the term has expired; therefore, the only remaining “life” a patent has would be in litigation because the statute of limitations for a patent infringement action is six years. Thus, the USPTO applies the Phillips standard. (Further discussion of this advanced topic goes beyond the scope of this article, which is intended to be a primer on the broadest reasonable interpretation standard.)

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Finjan shows patent owner can prevail at IPR institution stage

Finjan Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: FNJN), the parent of wholly owned subsidiary Finjan, Inc., recently announced that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) denied six of Symantec Corporation’s petitions for inter partes review (IPR) of Finjan patents.

“This is an unprecedented response by the US Patent Office,” stated Phil Hartstein (left), President and CEO of Finjan, upon learning of the decision of the PTAB.

The word “unprecedented” gets thrown around all too frequently, but the use of the word here does seem entirely appropriate. That Finjan would prevail in six separate IPR institution decisions relating to the same patent litigation seems nothing short of extraordinary given that the PTAB is instituting 80% of IPR petitions, and given how slanted IPR rules are against the patent owner, particularly at the institution stage.

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Federal Circuit shines ray of hope for substitute claims in IPR

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Nike, Inc. v. Adidas AG, relating to an appeal from the inter partes review (IPR) of U.S. Patent No. 7,347,011, owned by Nike.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the IPR petition filed by Adidas AG and instituted inter partes review of claims 1–46 of the ’011 patent. Nike then filed a motion to amend in which it requested cancellation of claims 1–46 and proposed substitute claims 47–50. The PTAB granted the motion to cancel claims 1-46, but denied the motion to substitute claims, as has become the norm in virtually all cases.

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CAFC says same panel can decide institution and merits in IPR

Last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inv. V. Covidien LP, an appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The dispute arose as the result of a Covidien inter partes review (IPR) petition challenging claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,317,070 (“the ’070 patent”), which is owned by Ethicon. The PTAB granted the petition and the IPR proceeded to a decision on the merits. On the merits, the same panel that determined that the petition should proceed in the first place, found all challenged claims invalid as obvious over the prior art.

Ethicon appealed to the Federal Circuit, arguing that the PTAB’s final decision was invalid because the same Board panel made both the decision to institute and the final decision. Ethicon also argued that the Board erred in finding the claims obvious.

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