SCOTUS Readies For Oral Argument In Three Patent Cases
Jeremy at PatLit reports that
It’s autumn in Washington, DC and time for patent litigators’ thoughts to turn to Washington Redskins football and U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments. Following its recent practice of granting certiorari in a relatively large number of patent-related cases (by historical standards, at least), the SCOTUS has accepted three patent cases this term. Two cases will be argued next week. The third will be argued in early January. Here’s a preview of all three cases:
Patent Eligibility. The most closely-watched case is Mayo Collaborative Services (d/b/a Mayo Medical Laboratories) v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. (No. 10-1153), an appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit considering the patent eligibility of medical processes. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. owns U.S. Patent No. 6,355,623, entitled “Method of treating IBD/Crohn’s Disease and related conditions wherein drug metabolite levels in host blood cells determine subsequent dosage,” and a subsequent continuation patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,680,302. The patents claim methods for treating gastrointestinal diseases by optimizing dosages of thiopurine drugs. The drugs are effective in carefully controlled doses, but have toxic side effects at incorrect levels. The patents generally claim a process of optimizing the dosage level by “administering” a thiopurine drug, “determining” the level of resulting drug metabolites in the patient’s blood, and then increasing or decreasing the drug dosage where the metabolite level “indicates a need” to do so.
Prometheus sued Mayo Collaborative Services, a unit of the Mayo Clinic, for infringement of the patents. Mayo moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the claimed invention was not eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101, because it attempts to cover a natural phenomenon – the correlation between thiopurine metabolite levels in a patient’s blood and drug effectiveness or toxicity.
The Mayo… case already has been to