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11 February 2016Americas

SCOTUS urged to deny petition on CAFC interference role

The US Supreme Court should reject a petition arguing that the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s should not handle interference proceedings, the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research (JFCR) has argued.

Yesterday, February 10, the JFCR filed its opposition brief to Biogen’s question to the court on whether the America Invents Act (AIA) “eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions”.

The warring parties are in dispute over who should own the patent rights to DNA sequences that encode human fibroblast interferon (hFIF) proteins used to promote viral resistance in human tissue.

Inventors Walter Friers and Haruo Sugano have previously faced off in two patent interference disputes over the subject matter. Sugano triumphed in both cases.

In the latest dispute, Friers and Sugano both filed patent applications relating to similar subject matter. Frier’s application is owned by Biogen and Sugano’s is owned by the JFCR.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) begun an interference review to determine the original inventor and sided with Sugano.

Biogen filed a lawsuit at the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, challenging the PTAB’s decision. But the district court transferred the case to the federal circuit in 2014, citing the AIA provision that sends all interference appeals to the federal circuit.

Biogen, in a writ filed on November 9, 2015, challenged the district court’s decision to move the case to the federal circuit.

“The elimination of district court interference actions will have far-reaching consequences for the patent system for at least a decade more. These actions serve a vital purpose, providing competing patent applications with the only means to conduct civil discovery, present live witnesses, and have a trial on the merits in disputes,” the writ said.

However, the JFCR countered that “judicial review of interference decisions remains available in the federal circuit” and that the advantage of consolidating all interference appeals at the federal circuit means they are reviewed in just one forum, rather than two.

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