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Following all of the latest IP developments in life sciences.

 

Federal Circuit Affirms As Obvious Suite of Patents Directed to Methods Of Treating Opioid Overdose

(Co-authored by Alexandra Kim)

Introduction

In February of 2022, the Federal Circuit affirmed a New Jersey District Court’s determination that four patents claiming methods of treating opioid overdose by intranasal administration of a naloxone formulation, as well as devices for intranasal administration, were invalid as obvious over two, three-reference, sets of prior art. A panel majority found that all of the individual components of the claimed methods were taught in the prior art and that a person of ordinary skill in the art (POSA) would have been motivated to combine such teachings because there was a strong desire in the prior art to improve upon existing but deficient methods for treating overdose.

In a 15-page dissent, Judge Newman criticized the majority’s logic, asserting that there was no evidence of “teaching or suggestion in the prior art” to make the claimed combination of ingredients for use in the claimed method so as to achieve the described beneficial results. She faulted the majority for relying on “the need for a better product” to provide motivation since “the artisan’s knowledge that the available products are deficient does not render the remedy obvious when it is eventually discovered.”

While the challenger here prevailed, this opinion—both the majority and the dissent—provides valuable guidance (and caution) for assembling multi-reference obviousness challenges.

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Harmony Brings Discord:  Federal Circuit Affirms Finding that Ariosa Diagnostics’ Harmony® Pre-Natal Test Infringes Illumina and Verinata Health Patents

(Co-authored by Kevin Mosier)

Overview

Cell-free fetal DNA technology was again the centerpiece of a dispute between plaintiffs Illumina and Verinata Health (referred together as Illumina), and defendants Ariosa Diagnostics and Roche Molecular Systems (referred together as Ariosa) in Verinata Health, Inc., et al v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., et al., No. 18-2198 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 24, 2020). At issue in the case was Ariosa’s pre-natal diagnostic test marketed as Harmony®. While Section 101 eligibility was not at issue, the Federal Circuit provided important commentary related to enablement and availability of injunctive relief, affirming a jury determination of validity in view of an enablement challenge, largely based on the referenced prior art and other evidence not strictly tied to the disclosures in the patent itself. Specifically, the jury below found that Harmony® infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 7,955,794 (‘794 patent) and 8,318,430 (‘430 patent), held by Illumina and Verinata Health, respectively. The district court denied Ariosa’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on the validity of the ‘430 and ‘794 patents and its motion for JMOL on infringement of the ‘794 patent. The district court also denied Illumina’s post-trial motions for a permanent injunction and supplemental damages. The parties filed cross-appeals on the denials of these motions, and the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s denials. The court also declined to issue an injunction, citing the parties’ respective sales models as evidence that irreparable harm was lacking.

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