Fed Circuit cancels skin cancer detection patent


Rory O'Neill

Fed Circuit cancels skin cancer detection patent

Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has cancelled claims of a Melanoscan patent covering methods of detecting skin cancer.

The decision, issued yesterday, February 18, marks a reversal of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which had previously held the challenged claims patentable.

Melanoscan is a tech start-up that uses an artificial intelligence (AI) platform to help doctors detect melanoma.

The Federal Circuit ruling also marks a win for Canfield Scientific, a medical imaging software provider. Canfield had challenged key claims of the Melanoscan patent (US number 7,359,748) at the PTAB, citing five documents including patent applications and academic articles as prior art.

The PTAB, however, ruled in Melanoscan’s favour, finding that a person of ordinary skill in the art would not have been motivated to combine the prior art and arrive at the claimed invention.

The patent, titled “Apparatus for Total Immersion Photography”, covers a device fitted with cameras and lights that “allows for the imaging of total or subtotal non-occluded body surfaces in order to detect health and cosmetic conditions”.

Specifically, the patent “relates to the detection, diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer as well as other diseases and cosmetic conditions”.

In a brief opinion, the Federal Circuit on Thursday, February 18 overturned the PTAB’s decision: “Claims 1 and 51 place the subject within the enclosure, as in the prior art, and place multiple cameras and lights within the enclosure, as in the prior art. We conclude that the subject matter described in claims 1 and 51 would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the field of the invention. The board’s ruling of patentability as to these claims is reversed.”

The court remanded the case back to the PTAB for further proceedings on the remainder of the challenged claims.

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Melanoscan, Federal Circuit, Canfield Scientific, medical imaging, skin cancer, PTAB