Category: Pharmaceuticals

Citing Need for Claim Construction, DNJ Court Denies Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on Pleadings

In Tolmar Therapeutics, Inc. v. Foresee Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently denied the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, reasoning that the motion could not be decided without claim construction. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant’s product CAMCEVI® infringes the plaintiff’s patent, which also covers the plaintiff’s Eligard® product. Both products are approved prostate cancer medications. Claim 1 of the patent-in-suit is directed to a controlled release composition that includes a polymer with an alkane diradical that comprises “about 4 to about 8 carbons.” The defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) arguing (1) that the term “about 4 to about 8 carbons” in the patent-in-suit meant that the defendant’s use of 12 carbons (see, e.g., ECF No. 39 at 1) in its product could not literally infringe; and (2) that the plaintiff could not rely on the doctrine of equivalents, because the use of the term “about” in the claims limited the applicability of the doctrine of equivalents and because of the disclosure-dedication rule. In denying the defendant’s motion, United States District Judge Evelyn Padin reasoned that both the plaintiff’s literal infringement and doctrine of equivalents theories required the court to construe the term “about 4...

DNJ Court Denies Request for Early Summary Judgment Finding Motion Made Mid-Fact Discovery Premature

In Metacel Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Rubicon Research Private Limited, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently denied the defendant’s request for leave to file a motion for summary judgment with respect to patent infringement. The plaintiff opposed the motion arguing that discovery was ongoing, and, in particular, the defendant had not yet produced certain samples necessary for the plaintiff to evaluate infringement. The plaintiff also argued there were also claim construction issues in the case that had not been resolved. The defendant’s motion was filed approximately two months before the parties’ opening claim construction briefs were due and, per the case’s scheduling order (ECF No. 25), fact discovery was to conclude 30 days after the court’s claim construction opinion. Agreeing with the plaintiff’s position, United States Magistrate Judge José R. Almonte found the defendant’s motion was “premature” and concluded that motions for summary judgment should be filed after claim construction. Gibbons will continue to monitor and report developments in Hatch-Waxman litigation in the District of New Jersey.

Northern District of California Relies on the Safe Harbor Defense of Section 271(e)(1) to Resolve Infringement Cases Early

Two recent decisions from the Northern District of California show courts’ willingness to dispose of cases early in litigation through the safe harbor defense. The safe harbor of Section 271(e)(1) allows competitors, before the expiration of a patent, to engage in otherwise infringing activities if the use is “reasonably related to” obtaining regulatory approval. These two decisions provide pre-litigation and litigation guidance for life science companies that manufacture regulated products such as drugs and medical devices. The Supreme Court has construed the safe harbor to apply to drugs as well as medical devices and other products subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Section 271(e)(1) of the Patent Act provides that: “It shall not be an act of infringement to make, use, offer to sell, or sell within the United States or import into the United States a patented invention … solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information under a Federal law which regulates the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs or veterinary biological products.” In Carl Zeiss Meditec v. Topcon Medical Systems, the N.D. Cal. granted with prejudice a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s patent infringement claim based on product testing as barred by the safe harbor of § 271(e)(1). Carl Zeiss alleged that software testing by Topcon...

Paragraph IV to Paragraph III Conversion Does Not Deprive a District Court of Subject Matter Jurisdiction in Hatch-Waxman Cases

In a significant Hatch-Waxman decision, a Delaware District Court recently denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), rejecting the argument that the conversion of the defendants’ Paragraph IV certifications to Paragraph III certifications deprived the court of subject matter jurisdiction, but granted the defendants’ motion for partial judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). In H. Lundbeck A/S v. Apotex Inc., the defendants converted their Paragraph IV certifications for certain patents at issue to Paragraph III certifications. Under 21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(2)(A)(viii), an ANDA filer must make any one of four (I-IV) certifications for each Orange Book listed patent. A Paragraph IV certification is an ANDA filer’s statement that it intends to market its bioequivalent pharmaceutical product before the expiration of a patent listed as covering that product because the ANDA filer believes such patent is either not infringed or invalid. A Paragraph III certification is an ANDA filer’s statement that it will not market its bioequivalent product until after the expiration of a patent listed as covering that product. The Court reasoned that in a Hatch-Waxman action, subject matter jurisdiction exists when a patent owner alleges that the filing of an ANDA infringes its patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(2) and conversion from a...

“Good Cause” Not Required for Contention Amendments in the District of Delaware

In Bio Delivery Sciences International Incorporated v. Alvogen PB Research & Development LLC, a Delaware District Court recently denied the plaintiffs’ motion to strike two prior art references from the defendants’ supplemental invalidity contentions, reasoning that the defendants were not obligated, as the plaintiffs argued, to demonstrate good cause for the amendment. The court noted that the case’s scheduling order did not contain a “good cause” requirement for amending contentions or a requirement that contentions be amended before the date on which the defendants served their amended contentions. The court reasoned that, while the amended contentions did need to comport with the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26, an analysis under the Pennypack factors did not require striking the references. In particular, the “possibility of curing the prejudice” and “likelihood of disruption of trial” factors militated strongly in the defendants’ favor because the plaintiffs did not need further discovery on the references and could address them easily in their expert reports, which would not have any impact on the trial date. Interestingly, had these defendants been litigating in the District of New Jersey they would have been obligated to demonstrate “good cause,” where Local Patent Rule 3.7 requires a showing of “good cause” for any party to amend “contentions, disclosures, or other documents required...

Plaintiffs’ Local Patent Rule 3.2(b) Document Production Sufficient to Support an “Invention Date” Predating a Disclosed “Priority Date”

Applying the plain language of the District of New Jersey’s Local Patent Rules, Chief Judge Wolfson recently ruled in Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. v. Sandoz Inc., that the plaintiffs were not precluded from asserting an “invention date” derived from their Local Patent Rule 3.2(b) disclosures that differed from the “priority date” expressly disclosed in their Local Patent Rule 3.1(f) contention disclosures. Local Patent Rule 3.1(f) requires that infringement contentions disclose, “[f]or any patent that claims priority to an earlier application, the priority date to which asserted claim is allegedly entitled.” Local Patent Rule 3.2 governs the document production that must accompany Local Patent Rule 3.1 disclosures and Local Patent Rule 3.2(b) requires the production of “[a]ll documents evidencing the conception, reduction to practice, design, and development of each claimed invention, which were created on or before the date of application for the patent in suit or the priority date identified pursuant to L. Pat. R. 3.1(f), whichever is earlier.” An “invention date” and a “priority date” have distinct meanings in patent law. An “invention date” is the date when the inventor conceived the invention and reduced it to practice and the “priority date” is the filing date of the earliest patent application to which the patents-in-suit are entitled. The plaintiffs’ Local Patent Rule 3.1(f) infringement...

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...

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...

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...