Category: Biotech

Senator Sasse Proposes Legislation Extending the Patent Term for Inventions Intended to Treat COVID-19

On March 30, 2020, Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., introduced a bill that would create the Facilitating Innovation to Fight Coronavirus Act. The first part of the legislation would shield healthcare providers from federal, state, and local civil liability if they are testing or treating coronavirus patients in certain circumstances. The second part of the bill would extend patent protection for new and existing medical devices and drugs intended to treat COVID-19. The added patent protection under the bill would only apply to eligible patents. An eligible patent is “a patent issued for a new or existing pharmaceutical, medical device, or other process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof used or intended for use in the treatment of the Coronavirus Disease.” The bill proposes that the term for new eligible patents “not begin until the date on which the national emergency declared by the President …terminates.” Moreover, the bill provides that the term for an eligible patent “shall extend for 10 years longer than it otherwise would under [the Patent Act].” Thus the bill would enhance patent protection for inventions covering technologies created to treat the coronavirus and inventions covering existing technologies adapted to treat the coronavirus. The CARES Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, provides $140.4 billion in...

FDA Will Now Provide More Data on 180-Day Exclusivity in the Orange Book

In a recent alert, the FDA announced that effective June 18, 2019, the Agency will publish additional data in the Orange Book Paragraph IV Certifications list. To enhance the already published data, the Orange Book will now include (1) the number of potential first applicants; (2) the 180-day decision date; (3) the date of the “first applicant” approval; (4) the date of first commercial marketing by any first applicant; and (5) the expiration date of the last qualifying patent. According to the FDA, the updated data listing comports with the Agency’s commitment under the Drug Competition Action Plan where the FDA “committed to enhancing efficiency of the development and approval of ANDAs, with the ultimate goal of more approvals.” Historically, the Orange Book Paragraph IV Certifications list has contained relevant information related to 180-day eligibility for generic drug products. Until recently, the listings included the name of the drug product, dosage form, dosage strength(s), the reference listed drug, the New Drug Application Number and the date upon which the first substantially complete application containing a Paragraph IV certification was submitted to the Agency. The new data will provide greater clarity to Hatch-Waxman litigants in a variety of ways. More specifically, with respect to the number of first applicants, the data will provide the number of...

Legislators Propose Framework To Reform Patent Eligibility Under Section 101

On April 17, 2019, Senators Chris Coons and Thom Tillis, and Representatives Doug Collins, Hank Johnson, and Steve Stivers unveiled a framework to reform 35 U.S.C. §101. Section 101 of the Patent Act currently makes patentable “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” Although the statute is relatively permissive, courts have limited patentable subject matter beyond the statutory mandate by creating judicial exceptions. Under these exceptions as articulated in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, “[l]aws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable.” The proposed framework seeks to address these exceptions to patent eligible subject matter through statute versus an ever-growing list of case law. Under the lawmakers’ proposed framework, reformed Section 101 would: Keep existing statutory categories of process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any useful improvement thereof. Eliminate, within the eligibility requirement, that any invention or discovery be both “new and useful.” Instead, simply require that the invention meet existing statutory utility requirements. Define, in a closed list, exclusive categories of statutory subject matter which alone should not be eligible for patent protection. The sole list of exclusions might include the following categories, for example: Fundamental scientific principles Products that exist solely and exclusively in nature Pure...

The Biologic Transparency Act (S. 659)

The Biologic Patent Transparency Act (S. 659) was introduced by Senators Susan M. Collins ((R) Maine) and Tim Kaine ((D) Virginia) to address an unintended burden when new biological products are presented to the FDA for approval. According to the sponsors, the Act “seeks to help increase patent transparency, promote biosimilar competition, bring needed biosimilar treatments to patients faster, and ultimately, lower drug prices for consumers.” Currently, there is no “official” listing of patents that relate to biological products comparable to what is available for small molecule drug products that are subject to patent and market exclusivity. Small molecule drug products patent listings are located in the commonly known “Orange Book.” Despite a lot of attention focused on biosimilar products and numerous litigations around the country, there is no official book for biologics that provides the transparency found with small molecule drugs. Instead, an “unofficial” book known as the “Purple Book” purports to identify the patents that cover a biological product. The Biologic Patent Transparency Act remedies this deficiency and requires manufacturers of approved biological products to list the patents covering their products with the FDA. In particular, the Act provides for the following: Codification and publication of the Purple Book to ensure that the public is aware of patents covering a biological product; Listing...

Supreme Court Holds That Non-Public Sales are Invalidating Under Post-AIA Section 102

In a closely watched case directly addressing open questions after the enactment of the America Invents Act (AIA), a unanimous Supreme Court (Thomas, J.) held in Helsinn v. Teva that a sale to a third party, despite being confidential, nevertheless triggered the long-standing meaning of “on sale” under §102(a). Gibbons previously reported on this much anticipated decision. As background, Helsinn owns patents directed to reducing the likelihood of a serious side effect of chemotherapy treatment. Almost two years before applying for a patent, Helsinn and a third party entered into a license agreement and a supply and purchase agreement. The agreements were publicly announced, but required the third party “to keep confidential any proprietary information received under the agreements.” The Federal Circuit held that because the sale between Helsinn and the third party was publicly disclosed, the on-sale bar applied. Before enactment of the AIA, 35 U.S.C. §102(b) barred the patentability of an invention that was “patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent.” By enacting the AIA, Congress amended §102 to bar the patentability of an “invention [that] was patented, described in a printed publication, or...

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to Promote Innovation in Biotechnology

On September 30, 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement in principle to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The pending United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes provisions governing the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. This blog post will cover the IP provisions of the USMCA, particularly as applied to pharmaceuticals and biologics. It’s important to note that the provisions of the USMCA prescribe a minimum requirement, some of which is already met or surpassed by the individual countries’ respective patent regimes. 1. Data protection for biologics Under Article 20.F.14, each country must provide, with respect “to the first marketing approval” of a product that “is or contains a biologic,” protection of undisclosed test or other data concerning the safety and efficacy of the product for “a period of at least ten years from the date of first marketing approval of that product.” This ten-year data exclusivity applies “at a minimum” to “a product that is produced using biotechnology processes and that is, or, alternatively, contains, a virus, therapeutic serum, toxin, antitoxin, vaccine, blood, blood component or derivative, allergenic product, protein, or analogous product, for use in human beings for the prevention, treatment, or cure of a disease or condition.” Under Article 20.K.1, this provision need not be implemented until...

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Finding That CRISPR-Cas9 Inventions Are Patentably Distinct

The Federal Circuit in Regents of the University of California v. The Broad Institute weighed in on the disputed inventorship of the breakthrough CRISPR-Cas9 technology, holding that the University of California (“UC”)’s invention of the mechanism in vitro did not render obvious Broad’s claims to the mechanism in eukaryotic cells. Gibbons previously reported on the technical background of CRISPR-Cas9. This post will focus on the inventorship issue and the implications of the Federal Circuit decision. In August 2012, UC researchers published an article showing that the CRISPR-Cas9 system, derived from prokaryotic cells like bacteria, could be used in vitro in a non-cellular experimental environment. Several research groups independently applied CRISPR-Cas9 in eukaryotic cells within months of UC’s disclosure. In February 2013, Broad researchers published an article describing the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in a human cell line. Both UC and Broad sought patent protection. UC, the senior party, claims the CRISPR-Cas system without referring to a particular cell type or environment. Broad, the junior party, claims the CRISPR-Cas system limited to use in eukaryotic cells, i.e., plant and animal cells. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) determined there was no interference-in-fact because, given the differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems, a person of ordinary skill in the art would not have had a reasonable expectation of success...

Surveying the CRISPR-Cas9 Patent Landscape in the United States

This post will discuss the patent landscape of the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 systems in the United States, including pending legal disputes. A CRISPR-Cas9 system is a combination of protein and ribonucleic acid (“RNA”) that can alter the genetic sequence of an organism. CRISPR-Cas systems occur naturally in bacteria and help the bacteria target and cut identified virus deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”). The CRISPR-Cas9 system is being developed as a powerful tool to modify specific DNA in the genomes of more complicated organisms, including plant and animal cells. For the purpose of this overview, the mechanism of CRISPR-Cas9 is explained in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)’s Broad Institute v. The Regents of the University of California interference decision. As the decision explains, the CRISPR-Cas9 system comprises three effective parts: a guide-RNA sequence, an activator-RNA sequence, and a protein called Cas9. CRISPR-Cas9 alters a target DNA molecule by first binding the guide-RNA sequence to a specific sequence in the DNA of interest. The activator-RNA sequence then interacts with the Cas9 protein, and the Cas9 protein cuts the target DNA at a specific site. By linking a DNA-cutting protein (Cas9) to a specific site on the target DNA, the CRISPR-Cas9 system achieves specific targeted manipulation of DNA. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted patents to variations...

Supreme Court To Review Whether Non-Public Sales Are Invalidating Under Post-AIA Section 102

The Supreme Court recently agreed to review Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., a case with broad implications for the pharmaceutical industry. In the opinion below, the Federal Circuit held that after the America Invents Act (“AIA”), “if the existence of the sale is public, the details of the invention need not be publicly disclosed in the terms of sale” for the sale to be invalidating under Section 102. The Court granted Helsinn’s petition for certiorari to answer “[w]hether, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, an inventor’s sale of an invention to a third party that is obligated to keep the invention confidential qualifies as prior art for purposes of determining the patentability of the invention.” Before the AIA, § 102(b) barred the patentability of an invention that was “patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent.” By enacting the AIA, Congress amended § 102 to bar the patentability of an “invention [that] was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.” In its petition for certiorari, Helsinn argued...

Stronger Patents Act Introduced in House of Representatives

On April 3, 2018, Representatives Steve Stivers and Bill Foster introduced H.R. 5340, entitled Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act implementation. This legislation parallels legislation introduced by Senators Chris Coons and Tom Cotton last year. This bill was introduced because its sponsors believe that the U.S. has driven innovation away with issues that particularly relate to the America Invents Act (AIA). The bill has the following portions in Section 102: Section A – Requires the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to use the same standard as District Courts when deciding what inventions the patent covers – claim construction. Currently, the PTAB uses the broadest reasonable interpretation standard and does not consider all of the evidence of a valid patent claim. Section B – Requires the PTAB to use the same burden of proof – clear and convincing evidence – that is used by District Courts. Right now, the PTAB uses the preponderance of the evidence standard. Section C – Ensures that a petitioner has a business or financial reason to bring the case before the PTAB. This is in direct response to the stockholder suits that have been brought in the PTAB against certain companies. Section D – Authorizes the United States Patent and Trademark Office...