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Following all of the latest IP developments in life sciences.

 

The Federal Circuit Adds Color to Formulation Claims in Olaplex v. L’Oréal

(as published in the May 2021 issue of the American Chemical Society's Northeast Section publication of The Nucleus)

Olaplex v. L’Oréal involves a particular problem that can arise when claiming pharmaceutical and consumer product formulations. In particular, a chemical compound, such as maleic acid as recited in the asserted claims, may be converted to different forms (e.g., salts, such as maleate or hydrogen maleate) once added to a formulation. Claim limitations that aim to specify the amounts or concentrations of such compounds in claimed formulations can be problematic when it is unclear how they are to be calculated.

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Finding the ‘Sweet Spot’ of Enablement in Amgen v. Sanofi: The Federal Circuit Provides Guidance on Enabling Antibody Claims

(Co-authored by Gabe McCool)

On February 11, 2021 the Federal Circuit upheld a United States District Court for the District of Delaware decision finding that Amgen’s function-only anti-PCSK9 monoclonal antibody claims were not enabled under 35 U.S.C. § 112. This highly anticipated decision involved a suit between the makers of the LDL-cholesterol-lowering drugs, Repatha® (Amgen) and Praluent® (Sanofi/Regeneron), filed nearly seven years ago by Amgen. Amgen had argued that patents for its cholesterol drug, RepathaⓇ, which cover a genus of antibodies that bind to a protein known as PCSK9, were sufficiently specific to allow one “skilled in the art” to “make and use” the patented invention without “undue experimentation” under the Wands factors.

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2020 Year in Review: Patent Decisions Impacting the Life Sciences

Authors: Jason Balich, K. Blake Chancellor, Sam Estabrooks, Eric Greenwald, Chelsea Loughran, Gabe McCool, Marie McKiernan, Kevin Mosier, Jonathan Roses, Claire Schuster, Charlie Steenburg, Patrick Waller, Andrew Williams

Editors: Sam Estabrooks, Gabe McCool, Patrick Waller

In the midst of many significant challenges in 2020, the year managed to see the first increase in the total annual number of patent cases in some time. In particular, the federal judiciary produced a string of biotech-related patent decisions impacting a range of issues, including enablement, written description, indefiniteness, novelty, obviousness, patent eligibility, safe harbor, and doctrine of equivalents.

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Expert Declarations in Inter Partes Review Proceedings Must Do More Than Create Noise:  PTAB Silences Challenge to Patented Method for Cleaning “Noisy” Genetic Data

Overview

On December 11, 2020, the PTAB issued a Final Written Decision in Illumina, Inc. v. Natera, Inc., IPR2019-01201, upholding the validity of Natera Inc.’s patent for determining genetic data from fragmentary DNA. Illumina, Inc. (“Illumina”) filed its petition, challenging claims 1-27 of Natera Inc.’s (“Natera” or “Patent Owner”) U.S. Patent No. 8,682,592 B2 (“’592”). The PTAB instituted inter partes review of all the challenged claims on obviousness grounds. While Illumina carried its burden at the institution stage, it failed to prove the unpatentability of the challenged claims by a preponderance of the evidence as required by 35 U.S.C. § 316(e). The PTAB determined that the challenged claims were not unpatentable, and also denied Illumina’s Motion to Exclude Evidence. Central to the PTAB’s decision were the expert declarations submitted by the parties, and the noted failure by Illumina to include all of its expert’s declarations in its petition.

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Targeting Indefinite Claims: Horizon Pharma, Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Inc.

Summary

Agreeing with the district court’s decision to invalidate two drug patents for indefiniteness, the Federal Circuit reasoned that two terms (“target” versus “produce”) used in the alternative in similar specification contexts were not implicitly interchangeable in meaning, affirmed a district court’s judgment that the claims were indefinite, and affirmed that conclusory, non-factual expert testimony was not persuasive either in construing the claims during a Markman hearing or in establishing an issue of fact to prevent summary judgment.

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Economic Considerations in Granting Injunctive Relief: Federal Circuit Partially Reverses Injunctive Relief in a Case of Willful Infringement

(Co-authored by Eric Greenwald)

Overview

On August 3, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit partially reversed a District Court’s decision for a permanent injunction against 10X Genomics. Bio-Rad Laboratories had sued 10X Genomics (“10X”) for infringing three patents directed to a microfluidic system that enables researchers to encapsulate biological materials in oil partitions, or plugs, for high-throughput biochemical reactions and genomics. During trial in the District Court for the District of Delaware, a jury found the patents-in-suit to be valid and willfully infringed and awarded Bio-Rad $24 million in damages based on 10X’s sale of five product lines. After denying 10X’s motion for judgment as a matter of law to overturn the verdict, the district court granted Bio-Rad’s motion for a permanent injunction prohibiting 10X from selling the five infringing product lines. 10X appealed these decisions.

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Unqualified Antitrust Immunity: the In re Humira Decision

(Co-authored by Chelsea Loughran)

Scores of lawyers and stakeholders in the biologics industry had been eagerly awaiting guidance from a federal district court in the In re Humira (Adalimumab) Antitrust Litigation, which was filed in March 2019 by indirect purchasers of Humira® alleging anticompetitive behavior on the part of Humira® manufacturer, AbbVie Inc. (AbbVie). On June 10, 2020, Northern District of Illinois Judge Manish Shah granted AbbVie’s motion to dismiss the complaint, finding that the plaintiffs’ antitrust allegations were too speculative and therefore insufficient to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The decision suggests that patent “evergreening” practices akin to those the plaintiffs allege AbbVie has exercised will still be available to innovators who wish to find ways to increase patent term on their marketed reference biologics and maintain a dominant position in the market.

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One and Done: Federal Circuit Affirms No New Notice Requirement Under BPCIA for Supplement to aBLA That Does Not Alter Biosimilar Structure

(Co-authored by Suresh Rav, Summer Associate)

Overview

On July 6, 2020, the Federal Circuit affirmed denial of Genentech’s motions to enjoin Amgen from marketing MVASI (bevacizumab-awwb), a biosimilar version of Genentech’s AVASTIN® (bevacizumab), an anti-angiogenic agent indicated for treating metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with certain other chemotherapies. The Federal Circuit held that filing a supplement to a previous biosimilar application does not trigger new notice requirements unless the biologic itself has changed. Both the district court and the Federal Circuit focused on the statutory language of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”), particularly the relationship between § 262 (l)(8)(A) “Notice of Commercial Marketing” (“subsection (l)(8)(A)”) and § 262 (k) “Licensure” (“subsection (k)”). The Federal Circuit concluded that changes made under subsection (k) that do not alter the biosimilar’s chemical or biological structure do not require new notice under subsection (l)(8)(A).

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Uphill Challenges for Parties Seeking Attorney Fees in Federal Circuit Appeals of PTAB Decisions

As any involved party can confirm, patent litigation is often not the most economical method of resolving a dispute. Typically, the “American Rule” is that each party must pay for its own litigation costs, but 35 U.S.C. § 285 allows for a court to award attorney fees to the prevailing party in “exceptional” cases. The question before the court in Amneal v. Almirall was whether this statute is broad enough to cover those fees incurred by the prevailing party for work done before the PTAB. Under the facts of the case, the Federal Circuit concluded that it is not.

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Not a Fragment of the Imagination: Federal Circuit Decides in Favor of Antibody Patent Owner in Hemlibra® Dispute

Overview

On August 27, 2020, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s determination that Genentech’s Hemlibra® (emicizumab-kxwh) product for treating hemophilia did not infringe Baxalta’s US Patent No. 7,033,590 (the ‘590 patent) because it found the lower court had erred in its claim construction of “antibody” and “antibody fragment.”

Background and Issue Presented

Hemophilia is a rare blood clotting disorder characterized by an underlying malfunction in the coagulation cascade. A critical step in the cascade is the formation of a complex between activated factor IX (FIXa) and activated factor VIII (FVIIIa) which then goes on to activate factor X (FX). Hemophilia develops when this complex is unable to form, due in many cases to the development of self-antibodies that inhibit FVIIIa, thereby blocking the activation of FX. The disclosed and claimed invention in the ‘590 patent relates to antibodies against FIXa that take the place of FVIIIa and result in the activation of factor X by FIXa even in the absence of FVIIIa. Thus, rapid blood coagulation may be achieved in hemophiliacs with FVIIIa inhibitors by administering the claimed anti-FIXa antibodies.

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