Stem Cell Transplant-Related Patent Found Valid Under Alice

In Genzyme Corp. v. Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA) Inc., a Delaware district court recently found two patents directed to methods of mobilizing progenitor/stem cells from bone marrow to the peripheral blood stream for use in stem cell transplantation valid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as being directed to patent-eligible subject matter.

The district court utilized the framework articulated in Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347, 2354 (2014), on which we have previously reported here, here, and here, to determine whether the patent claims covered patent-eligible subject matter or were patent-ineligible “[l]aws of nature, natural phenomena, [or] abstract ideas[.]” Under the Alice framework, the court first determines if the patent claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept, and, if so, then considers whether the claims contain an “inventive concept” which “transform[s] the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application.”

The district court found that the claims at issue were not directed to any patent-ineligible concept under step one of Alice because they were directed to the patent-eligible concept of “using plerixafor, itself a compound that does not naturally exist, to amplify a natural phenomenon – stem cell mobilization – in an unnatural way.” The court then found that, “even if those claims were directed simply to the natural phenomenon of stem cell mobilization, they recite an ‘inventive concept’ . . . because it was not understood, routine, or conventional at the time of the invention to use plerixafor to mobilize stem cells from the bone marrow to the peripheral blood.”

Thus, the district court concluded that the defendant had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the claims at issue were directed to patent-ineligible subject matter. Gibbons will continue to monitor and report developments.

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