SCOTUS Watch: Patent Eligibility Showdown Looming Before Supreme Court

101 patent patent eligible subject matter scotus watch

On January 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court will discuss at its first conference meeting whether or not to take up one to four cases dealing with patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101.  Patent eligibility has been a contentious source of patent application rejections or invalidations during post-grant litigation.  Medical diagnostics and software have been the hardest hit industries, but recent Fed Circuit cases has expanded the list of not patent-eligible under §101 include mechanical and pharmaceutical claims.

The four cases are: Athena Diagnostics Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs., LLC,[1] Case No. 19-430, asking whether new methods of medical diagnostics are patent-eligible subject matter claiming detection methods not previously linked and using synthetic molecules and specific chemical steps not previously performed; Garmin USA Inc. v. Cellspin Soft Inc.,[2] Case No. 19-400, asking whether patent eligibility is a matter of law resolved on a motion to dismiss; Hikma Pharms. USA Inc. v. Vanda Pharms. Inc.,[3] Case No. 18-817, asking whether a therapeutic claim is automatically patent-eligible subject matter when it applies natural law using routine and conventional steps; and HP Inc. v. Berkheimer,[4] Case No. 18-415, asking whether patent eligibility is a matter of law or a matter of fact.

We will follow what happens at the January 10 conference and post developments to the blog.

[1] 589 U.S.___ (2020), cert. pending, 927 F.3d 1333 (Fed. Cir. 2019), rehearing en banc denied, 915 F.3d 743 (Fed. Cir. 2019), aff’g 275 F. Supp. 3d 306 (D. Mass. 2017).

[2] 589 U.S.___ (2020), cert. pending, 927 F.3d 1306 (Fed. Cir. 2019), vacating & remanding Cellspin Soft, Inc. v. Fitbit, Inc., 316 F. Supp. 3d 1138 (N.D. Cal. 2018).

[3] 589 U.S.___ (2020), cert. pending, Vanda Pharms. Inc. v. West-Ward Pharms. Int’l Ltd., 887 F.3d 1117 (Fed. Cir. 2018), aff’g Vanda Pharm. Inc. v. Roxane Labs., Inc., 203 F. Supp. 3d 412 (D. Del. 2016).

[4] 589 U.S.___ (2020), cert. pending, Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 890 F.3d 1369(Fed. Cir. 2018), rehearing & rehearing en banc denied, 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018), aff’g-in-part, rev’g-in-part, Berkheimer v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 224 F. Supp. 3d 635 (N.D. Ill. 2016).

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