Blog Post

BLOG POST: The Weak “Non-obvious” Patenting Requirement is Impeding Americans from Obtaining Affordable Pharmaceuticals*

*This writing is a blog post. It is not a published IPTF Journal Article. Sydney Closs A patent grants an inventor the right to exclude others from “making, using, importing, and selling” a patented invention for a specified period of time. 35 U.S.C. § 271. This right allows an innovator to enjoy a limited monopoly over an invention, providing important incentives for innovation. See 35 U.S.C. § 103. Under current patent law, there are five principal requirements for a new innovation to be eligible to receive a patent: (1) patentable subject matter, (2) utility, (3) novelty, (4) non-obviousness, and (5)...

The Supreme Court’s Missed Opportunity to Save Genus Claims in Life Sciences Patents

Alexander Franzosa The life sciences industry is a vital sector of the American economy, and its success is reliant on the protection of patent holder rights. One common feature in life sciences patents is the genus claim, a claim type traditionally allowing the patent holder to claim a group of related species based on common functionality. A novel interpretation of “written description,” a required element for patent applications, has emerged in recent decisions by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This new interpretation has caused concern among some members of the life sciences industry regarding the validity of...

Cannabis and Patent Law: Lessons from a Canadian Cannabis Case Study

Katherine Minorini Cannabis is illegal under federal law in the United States, yet individual states have legalized it for both medicinal and recreational use. Additionally, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) routinely issues patents for cannabis-related inventions despite the drug’s federal prohibition. As the prospect of federal legalization becomes more likely, patent protection will play a crucial role in the budding cannabis market. By evaluating Canada’s legal cannabis system, this Essay identifies lessons the United States can take from the Canadian legalization framework. Ultimately, this Essay asserts that the United States should take quick action and legalize cannabis...

Expanding the Patent Eligibility of Diagnostic Tests and Their Methods

Jo-an Chen There is ongoing debate over whether diagnostic tests and their methods should be patent eligible. As it stands today, these tests are largely unpatentable given the restrictive interpretation of patent eligibility laws in the United States. Some argue that patent claims directed to observing a law of nature, such as diagnostic tests, should remain patent ineligible to prevent an inventor from monopolizing basic tools of science. Others argue that diagnostic tests should be patent eligible to incentivize and encourage similar types of socially beneficial discoveries and inventions. This Essay agrees with the policy rationale for expanding the patent...

Driving in Circles: Impact of American Axle on Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence and Green Initiatives in the Automotive Industry

Zoë Haggerty A recent executive order signed by President Biden establishes a National Climate Task Force to oversee the conversion of the federal fleet to all-electric vehicles. If the President’s goal is to be achieved, the Supreme Court must review patent eligibility jurisprudence and provide guidance to the “bitterly divided” Federal Circuit. Fortuitously, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to do precisely that by granting certiorari to American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings LLC and clarifying the exact standard courts are to apply when determining cases of patent eligibility. Given the ever more pressing need for intelligibility in patent eligibility jurisprudence...

A Welcome Limit on Design Patent Protection: Curver Luxembourg, Sarl v. Home Expressions

Casey Houlton In 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit addressed the scope of design patent law in Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions. The court held that a design patent must be limited to a particular article of manufacture. As such, claim language may be used to limit the scope of a design patent to a particular article of manufacture if an article is not specified in the claim’s figures. Although the court’s failure to define an article of manufacture may result in some difficulties with Curver’s application, the court’s decision is consistent with the...

Misbehaved Marks: Exploring the Implications of Iancu v. Brunetti

Devon Sanders In Iancu v. Brunetti, the Supreme Court decided that the First Amendment barred the United States Patent and Trademark Office from denying trademark registration for “immoral or scandalous” marks. This marked the first time that owners could register potentially obscene or derogatory marks. This decision changes the future of trademark registration and leaves lasting repercussions throughout trademark law in general. This Article explores the history of trademark law’s ban on registration for immoral or scandalous marks, recent judicial reform with Iancu v. Brunetti and its implications, and potential solutions to challenges caused by the decision. Read Full Text...

Litigation Misconduct and the Inequitable Conduct Defense: An Argument for Limiting Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Merus N.V.

Connor Romm Inequitable conduct is a defense to a claim of patent infringement that can invalidate the underlying patent. At its inception, the defense was meant to encourage honest representations in the patent prosecution process. It later morphed into a source of troubling litigation tactics. In May 2011, in Therasense, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson & Co., the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, sought to address disturbing trends in the doctrine and raised the standard required to prevail on the defense. In July 2017, in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Merus N.V., the same court...

IP Protection for Startups: The Role of Legislation in Stopping Patent Trolls and Encouraging Innovation

Kristin Garr In the past five years, the rate of startups entering the market has drastically increased, and it continues to see an upward trend, giving rise to the phenomenon known as the “startup boom.” While the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has implemented major changes to the patent system in the past decade, the agency has not been able to address the problem that is crippling the success of emerging companies: patent trolls. Various states’ legislatures have recognized this issue and enacted statutes prohibiting bad faith patent assertions as a result. This article explains the startup industry’s...

Obtaining Marijuana Patents

Natali De Corso In the midst of a boom in the marijuana industry, marijuana breeders and companies have increasingly sought protection of their unique marijuana strains through patents. Their success, however, is limited given the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been reluctant to grant such patents. This article explores the current patentability of marijuana strains, discusses the difficulties marijuana breeders and companies face in patenting their product, and introduces successful marijuana-related patent applications. Read Full Text Here