On November 13, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided to take a case en banc that will require the court to resolve issues relating to the on-sale bar of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. § 102(b).
The case is The Medicines Company v. Hospira, Inc., which was decided by Judges Dyk, Wallach, and Hughes on July 2, 2015. The original panel decision, which was authored by Judge Hughes, has been vacated and the appeal reinstated.
The Medicines Company filed a combined petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc. The petition was considered by the panel that heard the appeal and thereafter referred to those judges on the full court who are in regular active service (i.e., judges on senior status who did not participate in the panel hearing do not participate in en banc petitions). A response was invited by the court and filed by defendant/cross-appellant Hospira, Inc.
Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued another in the long list of judicial decisions in the ongoing patent saga between Apple and Samsung. See Apple v. Samsung Electronics (Fed. Cir. Sept. 17, 2015).
This latest appeal arises from a suit filed by Apple against Samsung in February 2012 alleging infringement of five patents directed to smartphone and tablet interfaces. The district court held on summary judgment that Samsung infringed U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172. The case proceeded to trial, and a jury found that nine Samsung products infringed one or both of Apple’s U.S. Patent Nos. 5,946,647 and 8,046,721. The jury awarded Apple a total of $119,625,000 for Samsung’s infringement of the three patents.
Following the verdict, Apple filed a motion seeking a permanent injunction that would bar Samsung from making, using, selling, developing, advertising, or importing into the United States software or code capable of implementing the infringing features in its products. Apple did not seek to enjoin Samsung’s infringing smartphones and tablets, but only the infringing features. Moreover, Apple’s proposed injunction included a 30-day “sunset period” that would stay enforcement of the injunction until 30 days after it was entered by the district court, during which time Samsung could design around the infringing features. This “sunset period” coincided with Samsung’s representations at trial that it could remove the infringing features from its products quickly and easily.
Several weeks ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Dynamic Drinkware v. National Graphics, which asked the Court to determine who has the burden with respect to whether a provisional patent application sufficiently supports a later-issued patent so as to become effective prior art as of the provisional filing date in an inter partes review.
National Graphics owns U.S. Patent 6,635,196, which is directed to making molded plastic articles bearing a “lenticular” image. The ’196 patent issued on October 21, 2003, from an application filed on November 22, 2000. The ’196 patent claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application 60/211,112, filed on June 12, 2000.
Dynamic petitioned the PTO for inter partes review of the ’196 patent. In its petition, Dynamic argued that claims 1, 8, 12, and 14 of the ’196 patent were anticipated by U.S. Patent 7,153,555 (“Raymond”). The application for Raymond was filed on May 5, 2000, claiming the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application 60/182,490 (the “provisional application” or “Raymond provisional application”), filed on February 15, 2000. The PTO granted the petition in part, and instituted trial on claims 1 and 12.
Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, decided SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, which required the Court to determine the continued applicability of the laches defense for patent infringement actions. This issue presents itself in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1962 (2014), which determined that laches is not a defense to a copyright infringement action brought within the statute of limitation.
Petrella involved an assertion that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (“MGM”) 1980 film “Raging Bull” infringed a copyright in a 1963 screenplay authored by Frank Petrella. Frank Petrella’s daughter renewed the copyright in 1991, but did not contact MGM until seven years later. Over the next two years, Petrella and MGM exchanged letters concerning Petrella’s copyright claim. Petrella then went silent, and did not file suit until January 6, 2009, about nine years after her last correspondence with MGM. MGM moved for summary judgment based on laches, which the district court granted and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.
On June 12, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc. The Federal Circuit decision has been widely criticized (see here and here, for example). Sequenom has asked for reconsideration en banc, with 12 separate amici filers in support of Sequenom’s petition for reconsideration en banc.
The original panel decision dealt with whether a non-invasive method for detecting paternally inherited cell-free fetal DNA (“cffDNA”) from a blood sample of a pregnant woman was patentable. See U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540. The district court ruled that the method claims were patent ineligible and the Federal Circuit agreed. Judge Linn was uncomfortable with the decision, but wrote in a concurrence that he thought that the outcome was mandated by the “sweeping language of the test set out in Mayo.”
Sequenom has retained Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the SCOTUS blog, to handle the appeal. Goldstein has served as counsel in over 100 Supreme Court cases over the last 15 years. His presence sends a clear message that Sequenom is heading to the Supreme Court if they do not prevail in an en banc rehearing.