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Paris Court of Appeals Rejects Pharmaceutical Supplementary Protection Certificate Applications

One of the conditions for obtaining an SPC is that “the product is protected by a basic patent in force”. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) clarified to what extent a product must be identified by the claims to meet this condition in Teva, Eli Lilly, and Royalty Pharma.

In Eli Lilly, the CJEU notes that an active ingredient which is not identified in the claims of a basic patent by means of a structural or functional definition cannot be considered to be “protected by a basic patent.”

The active ingredient does not, however, have to be identified in the claims by a structural formula. A functional definition of the active ingredient may suffice if it is possible to reach the conclusion on the basis of the claims (interpreted in light of the description of the invention) that they relate “implicitly but necessarily and specifically, to the active ingredient in question.

Click here to read the full article in our latest International News.




IP Ownership Considerations in Multi-jurisdictional Software Development Agreements

As a result of the healthcare sector’s growing dependence on software, health IT companies are increasingly taking advantage of globalisation to engage contractors in low wage jurisdictions to develop their user-facing software applications. This can trigger unforeseen legal risks owing to the differing laws across jurisdictions related to the ownership and transfer of intellectual property (IP) rights.

At the most extreme end, best practices in some jurisdictions are unenforceable or even impermissible in others. In view of these issues, it is strongly recommended that a company looking to take advantage of cross-border contracting for critical development eorts should carefully consider the choice of law provisions in their agreements, and engage with local counsel to ensure proper vesting of intellectual property rights.

An inability to demonstrate proper ownership of such rights can be a substantial obstacle for later financings or in corporate activities. Depending on the jurisdictions involved, a contracting company may need to concern itself with at least three types of IP in the software that is developed on its behalf: copyrights, moral or author’s rights, and patents.

Click here to read the full article in our latest edition of International News.




Only Human: Broadest Reasonable Interpretation Standard Applies to Intentionally Expired Patent

Affirming an invalidity finding by the Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB), the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the claims of the now-expired patent should be construed under the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard, and not under the Phillips standard, because the patent owner intentionally gave up the remainder of the patent term only after the appeal was fully briefed. Immunex Corp. v. Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC, Case Nos. 19-1749, -1777 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 13, 2020) (Prost, C.J.).

Immunex owns a patent directed to human antibodies that inhabit certain receptors to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. After being sued for infringement, Sanofi and Regeneron (collectively, Sanofi) requested inter partes review (IPR) of the patent, which the PTAB instituted. Based on the IPR filing date and because the patent was unexpired during the pendency of the IPR proceeding, the PTAB used the BRI standard to construe various claim terms. Had the patent been expired, the PTAB would have used the more stringent Phillips standard to construe the claims. Ultimately, the PTAB found all of the challenged claims unpatentable. Immunex appealed.

After appellate briefing was complete, Immunex filed a terminal disclaimer of its patent. The US Patent and Trademark Office accepted the terminal disclaimer, and as a result the patent term expired approximately two months before oral argument. Immunex then filed a citation of supplemental authority informing the Federal Circuit of the terminal disclaimer and asking the Court to change the applicable claim construction standard from BRI to Phillips.

The Federal Circuit found that the application of the BRI standard to Immunex’s patent was appropriate. Although the PTAB currently applies the Phillips claim construction standard in all newly filed IPRs, at the time that Sanofi filed its IPRs, the PTAB applied the Phillips standard only to expired patents. For unexpired patents, it applied the BRI standard. The Court noted that the use of the Phillips standard in cases where the patent expired during the appellate process should not be an absolute, particularly when the patent term expired at an unexpected early date, such as through the filing of a terminal disclaimer.

The Federal Circuit further affirmed the PTAB’s claim construction under the BRI standard and the invalidity finding predicated on that claim construction. The issue on appeal was whether a “human antibody” must be entirely human (as asserted by Immunex) or whether it may also be “partially human,” including “humanized” (as asserted by Sanofi and construed by the PTAB). The Court agreed with the PTAB and found that the patent’s specification supported the conclusion that the BRI of “human antibody” “includes both fully human and partially human antibodies.” The Court also found that “human antibodies” in the context of the patent-in-suit is a broad category that encompasses both partially and completely human antibodies. The Court therefore affirmed the PTAB’s finding.

The Federal Circuit also commented on the PTAB’s departure from an earlier claim construction ruling by a district court in which “human” was construed to mean “fully [...]

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Inherent Claim Limitation Necessarily Present in the Prior Art Invalidates Patent

Addressing the issue of obviousness, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that a patent was invalid based on inherency because the claim limitation was necessarily present in the prior art. Hospira, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC, Case Nos. 19-1329, -1367 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 9, 2020) (Lourie, J).

The patent at-issue is directed to premixed pharmaceutical compositions of dexmedetomidine that do not require reconstitution or dilution prior to administration and remains stable and active after prolonged storage. Hospira makes and sells dexmedetomidine products, including a ready-to-use product called Precedex Premix covered by the patent at-issue. Fresenius filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market a generic ready-to-use dexmedetomidine product. Hospira brought suit alleging infringement under the Hatch-Waxman Act.

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Making the Most of Markush

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit expanded the Markush doctrine, determining that the claim language “comprising . . . [at least] . . . a group consisting of . . .” absent some basis or extrinsic evidence for limiting the group, such a group could capture an alleged infringement  having an additional component  present, as long as the additional component is “functionally similar” to the component identified in the Markush group limitation. ,Amgen Inc. v. Amneal Pharm. LLC, Case No. 18-2414 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 7, 2020) (Lourie, J).

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Slipping Through the Cracks of the § 271(e)(1) Safe Harbor

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed that the majority of the batches of an accused biosimilar manufactured by Hospira were not protected by the Safe Harbor exemption of § 271(e)(1), and that patent infringement damages were not unreasonable, notwithstanding that none of the accused product had been sold. Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., Case Nos. 19-1067; -1102 (Fed. Cir., Dec. 16, 2019)(Moore, J.).

EPO is a glycoprotein that regulates red blood cell development. Recombinant versions of EPO are used to treat anemia. One example is Amgen’s product Epogen. In 2014, Hospira submitted a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting approval for its EPO biosimilar. Amgen then sued Hospira for infringement of its patent directed to methods of producing EPO isoforms and its patent directed to recombinant cells producing EPO at certain rates. Specifically, Amgen asserted that 21 pre-approval batches of EPO manufactured by Hospira infringed various claims of these patents.

Hospira appealed.

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