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Following all of the latest IP developments in life sciences.

 

Illuminating Section 101: The Federal Circuit Upholds Diagnostic-Related Patent In Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc.

Overview

On March 17, 2020, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s finding that two patents relating to diagnostic methods involving cell-free fetal DNA were invalid for lacking subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The court reached its decision entirely on analyzing step one of the two-part Alice/Mayo test, finding that “the claims are not directed to a patent-ineligible concept” and consequently did not need to reach the second step of the test. This decision adds clarity to the metes and bounds of patent eligibility jurisprudence because it suggests that a claimed method relating to a natural phenomenon may be patent eligible so long as concrete processing steps that go beyond merely observing the natural phenomenon are recited in the claim. Also, while the decision does not go as far as requiring a physical transformation or the production of non-naturally occurring material as a result of such processing steps, it may be instructive to consider whether a material not existing in nature results from performing the steps of the claim.

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