Motion Medical Technologies, LLC v. Thermotek, Inc.

ThermoTek, Inc. convinced a jury that Mike Wilford and his companies engaged in unfair competition and fraud in violation of Texas law. The district court, however, granted judgment as a matter of law to the defendants, concluding that federal law preempted the unfair competition claim and that ThermoTek failed to prove its damages for fraud. We affirm.

Download Motion Medical Technologies LLC v. Thermotek Inc.

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Lipitor Antitrust Litigation

This opinion addresses two sets of consolidated appeals concerning two pharmaceutical drugs: Lipitor and Effexor XR. In both sets of consolidated appeals, plaintiffs allege that the companies holding the patents related to Lipitor and Effexor XR fraudulently procured and enforced certain of those patents. Plaintiffs further allege that those companies holding the patents entered into unlawful, monopolistic settlement agreements with potential manufacturers of generic versions of Lipitor and Effexor XR. The same District Court Judge dismissed the complaints in the Lipitor litigation and dismissed certain allegations in the Effexor litigation. Those decisions relied on plausibility determinations that are now challenged on appeal.

We begin with a brief summary of the relevant regulatory scheme applicable to pharmaceutical drugs and then detail the factual and procedural backgrounds of these two sets of consolidated appeals. The remainder of the opinion broadly covers two issues. First, in F.T.C. v. Actavis, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2223 (2013), the Supreme Court concluded that payments from patentees to infringers through “reverse payment settlement agreements” are subject to antitrust scrutiny. Id. at 2227. In both sets of consolidated appeals, plaintiffs allege that the companies holding the pharmaceutical patents and the generic manufacturers entered into such agreements. We are asked to decide whether those allegations are plausible. We conclude, as to both sets of appeals, that they are. Second, regarding only the Lipitor consolidated appeals, we address whether plaintiffs in those appeals pled plausible allegations of fraudulent patent procurement and enforcement, as well as other related misconduct. We again determine that those allegations are indeed plausible. Accordingly, we will reverse the District Court’s dismissal of the complaints in the Lipitor litigation, reverse its dismissal of the allegations in the Effexor litigation, and remand for further proceedings.

Download Lipitor Antitrust Litigation

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc.

The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA or Act) provides an abbreviated pathway for obtaining Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a drug that is biosimilar to an already licensed biological product (reference product). 42 U. S. C. §262(k). It also provides procedures for resolving patent disputes between biosimilar manufacturers (applicants) and manufacturers of reference products (sponsors). §262(l). The Act treats the mere submission of a biosimilar application as an “artificial” act of infringement, enabling parties to bring patent infringement actions at certain points in the application process even if the applicant has not committed a traditional act of patent infringement. See 35 U. S. C. §§271(e)(2)(C)(i), (ii).

Under §262(l)(2)(A), an applicant seeking FDA approval of a biosimilar must provide its application and manufacturing information to the sponsor within 20 days of the date the FDA notifies the applicant that it has accepted the application for review. This triggers an exchange of information between the applicant and sponsor designed to create lists of relevant patents and flesh out potential legal arguments. §262(l)(3). The BPCIA then channels the parties into two phases of patent litigation. In the first, the parties collaborate to identify patents on the lists for immediate litigation. The second phase—triggered when the applicant, pursuant to §262(l)(8)(A), gives the sponsor notice at least 180 days before commercially marketing the biosimilar—involves any listed patents not litigated in the first phase. The applicant has substantial control over the timing and scope of both phases of litigation. Failure to comply with these procedural requirements may lead to two consequences relevant here. Under §262(l)(9)(C), if an applicant fails to provide its application and manufacturing information to the sponsor under §262(l)(2)(A), then the sponsor, but not the applicant, may immediately bring an action “for a declaration of infringement, validity, or enforceability of any patent that claims the biological product or a use of the biological product.” And under §262(l)(9)(B), if an applicant provides the application and manufacturing information but fails to complete a subsequent step in the process, the sponsor, but not the applicant, may bring a declaratory-judgment action with respect to any patent included on the sponsor’s list of relevant patents.

Neupogen is a filgrastim product marketed by Amgen, which claims to hold patents on methods of manufacturing and using filgrastim. Sandoz sought FDA approval to market a biosimilar filgrastim product under the brand name Zarxio, with Neupogen as the reference product. A day after the FDA informed Sandoz that its application had been accepted for review, Sandoz notified Amgen that it had submitted an application and that it intended to market Zarxio immediately upon receiving FDA approval. It later informed Amgen that it did not intend to provide the application and manufacturing information required by §262(l)(2)(A) and that Amgen could sue immediately for infringement under §262(l)(9)(C).

Amgen sued Sandoz for patent infringement and also asserted that Sandoz engaged in “unlawful” conduct in violation of California’s unfair competition law. This latter claim was predicated on two alleged violations of the BPCIA: Sandoz’s failure to provide its application and manufacturing information under §262(l)(2)(A), and its provision of notice of commercial marketing under §262(l)(8)(A) prior to obtaining licensure from the FDA. Amgen sought injunctions to enforce both BPCIA requirements. Sandoz counterclaimed for declaratory judgments that the asserted patent was invalid and not infringed and that it had not violated the BPCIA.

While the case was pending, the FDA licensed Zarxio, and Sandoz provided Amgen a further notice of commercial marketing. The District Court subsequently granted partial judgment on the pleadings to Sandoz on its BPCIA counterclaims and dismissed Amgen’s unfair competition claims with prejudice. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The court affirmed the dismissal of Amgen’s state-law claim based on Sandoz’s alleged violation of §262(l)(2)(A), holding that Sandoz did not violate the BPCIA in failing to disclose its application and manufacturing information and that the BPCIA provides the exclusive remedies for failure to comply with this requirement. The court also held that under §262(l)(8)(A) an applicant must provide notice of commercial marketing after obtaining licensure, and that this requirement is mandatory. It thus enjoined Sandoz from marketing Zarxio until 180 days after the date it provided its second notice.

Held: Section 262(l)(2)(A) is not enforceable by injunction under federal law, but the Federal Circuit on remand should determine whether a state-law injunction is available. An applicant may provide notice under §262(l)(8)(A) prior to obtaining licensure. Pp. 10–18.

(a) Section 262(l)(2)(A)’s requirement that an applicant provide the sponsor with its application and manufacturing information is not enforceable by an injunction under federal law. The Federal Circuit reached the proper result on this point, but its reasoning was flawed. It cited §271(e)(4), which expressly provides the “only remedies” for an act of artificial infringement. In light of this language, the court reasoned that no remedy other than those specified in the text—such as an injunction to compel the applicant to provide its application and manufacturing information—was available. The problem with this reasoning is that Sandoz’s failure to disclose was not an act of artificial infringement remediable under §271(e)(4). Submitting an application constitutes an act of artificial infringement; failing to disclose the application and manufacturing information required by §262(l)(2)(A) does not.

Another provision, §262(l)(9)(C), provides a remedy for an applicant’s failure to turn over its application and manufacturing information. It authorizes the sponsor, but not the applicant, to bring an immediate declaratory-judgment action for artificial infringement, thus vesting in the sponsor the control that the applicant would otherwise have exercised over the scope and timing of the patent litigation and depriving the applicant of the certainty it could have obtained by bringing a declaratory-judgment action prior to marketing its product. The presence of this remedy, coupled with the absence of any other textually specified remedies, indicates that Congress did not intend sponsors to have access to injunctive relief, at least as a matter of federal law, to enforce the disclosure requirement. See Great-West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, 534 U. S. 204, 209. Statutory context further confirms that Congress did not authorize courts to enforce §262(l)(2)(A) by injunction. Pp. 10–13.

(b) The Federal Circuit should determine on remand whether an injunction is available under state law to enforce §262(l)(2)(A). Whether Sandoz’s conduct was “unlawful” under California’s unfair competition statute is a question of state law, and the Federal Circuit thus erred in attempting to answer that question by referring only to the BPCIA. There is no dispute about how the federal scheme actually works on the facts of this case: Sandoz failed to disclose the requisite information under §262(l)(2)(A), and was accordingly subject to the consequence specified in §262(l)(9)(C). As a result, there is nothing to decide on this point as a matter of federal law. The court on remand should determine whether California law would treat noncompliance with §262(l)(2)(A) as “unlawful,” and whether the BPCIA pre-empts any additional state-law remedy for failure to comply with §262(l)(2)(A). Pp. 13–15.

(c) An applicant may provide notice of commercial marketing before obtaining a license. Section 262(l)(8)(A) states that the applicant “shall provide notice to the reference product sponsor not later than 180 days before the date of the first commercial marketing of the biological product licensed under subsection (k).” Because the phrase “of the biological product licensed under subsection (k)” modifies “commercial marketing” rather than “notice,” “commercial marketing” is the point in time by which the biosimilar must be “licensed.” Accordingly, the applicant may provide notice either before or after receiving FDA approval. Statutory context confirms that §262(l)(8)(A) contains a single timing requirement (180 days before marketing), rather than the two requirements posited by the Federal Circuit (after licensing, and 180 days before marketing). “Had Congress intended to” impose two timing requirements in §262(l)(8)(A), “it presumably would have done so expressly as it did in the” adjacent provision, §262(l)(8)(B). Russello v. United States, 464 U. S. 16, 23. Amgen’s contrary arguments are unpersuasive, and its various policy arguments cannot overcome the statute’s plain language. Pp. 15–18.

794 F. 3d 1347, vacated in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion.

Download Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc.

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc.

Held:

1. Lexmark exhausted its patent rights in the Return Program cartridges that it sold in the United States. A patentee’s decision to sell a product exhausts all of its patent rights in that item, regardless of any restrictions the patentee purports to impose. As a result, even if the restrictions in Lexmark’s contracts with its customers were clear and enforceable under contract law, they do not entitle Lexmark to retain patent rights in an item that it has elected to sell. Pp. 5–13.

(a) The Patent Act grants patentees the “right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling [their] invention[s].” 35 U. S. C. §154(a). For over 160 years, the doctrine of patent exhaustion has imposed a limit on that right to exclude: When a patentee sells an item, that product “is no longer within the limits of the [patent] monopoly” and instead becomes the “private, individual property” of the purchaser. Bloomer v. McQuewan, 14 How. 539, 549–550. If the patentee negotiates a contract restricting the purchaser’s right to use or resell the item, it may be able to enforce that restriction as a matter of contract law, but may not do so through a patent infringement lawsuit.

The exhaustion rule marks the point where patent rights yield to the common law principle against restraints on alienation. The Patent Act promotes innovation by allowing inventors to secure the financial rewards for their inventions. Once a patentee sells an item, it has secured that reward, and the patent laws provide no basis for restraining the use and enjoyment of the product. Allowing further restrictions would run afoul of the “common law’s refusal to permit restraints on the alienation of chattels.” Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 568 U. S. 519, 538. As Lord Coke put it in the 17th century, if an owner restricts the resale or use of an item after selling it, that restriction “is voide, because . . . it is against Trade and Traffique, and bargaining and contracting betweene man and man.” 1 E. Coke, Institutes of the Laws of England §360, p. 223 (1628). Congress enacted and has repeatedly revised the Patent Act against the backdrop of this hostility toward restraints on alienation, which is reflected in the exhaustion doctrine.

This Court accordingly has long held that, even when a patentee sells an item under an express, otherwise lawful restriction, the patentee does not retain patent rights in that product. See, e.g., Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 553 U. S. 617. And that well settled line of precedent allows for only one answer in this case: Lexmark cannot bring a patent infringement suit against Impression Products with respect to the Return Program cartridges sold in the United States because, once Lexmark sold those cartridges, it exhausted its right to control them through the patent laws. Pp. 5–9.

(b) The Federal Circuit reached a different result because it started from the premise that the exhaustion doctrine is an interpretation of the patent infringement statute, which prohibits anyone from using or selling a patented article “without authority” from the patentee. According to the Federal Circuit, exhaustion reflects a default rule that selling an item “presumptively grant[s] ‘authority’ for the purchaser to use it and resell it.” 816 F. 3d 721, 742. But if a patentee withholds some authority by expressly limiting the purchaser’s rights, the patentee may enforce that restriction through patent infringement lawsuits. See id., at 741.

The problem with the Federal Circuit’s logic is that the exhaustion doctrine is not a presumption about the authority that comes along with a sale; it is a limit on the scope of the patentee’s rights. The Patent Act gives patentees a limited exclusionary power, and exhaustion extinguishes that power. A purchaser has the right to use, sell, or import an item because those are the rights that come along with ownership, not because it purchased authority to engage in those practices from the patentee. Pp. 9–13.

2. Lexmark also sold toner cartridges abroad, which Impression Products acquired from purchasers and imported into the United States. Lexmark cannot sue Impression Products for infringement with respect to these cartridges. An authorized sale outside the United States, just as one within the United States, exhausts all rights under the Patent Act.

The question about international exhaustion of intellectual property rights has arisen in the context of copyright law. Under the first sale doctrine, when a copyright owner sells a lawfully made copy of its work, it loses the power to restrict the purchaser’s right “to sell or otherwise dispose of . . . that copy.” 17 U. S. C. §109(a). In Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 568 U. S. 519, this Court held that the first sale doctrine applies to copies of works made and sold abroad. Central to that decision was the fact that the first sale doctrine has its roots in the common law principle against restraints on alienation. Because that principle makes no geographical distinctions and the text of the Copyright Act did not provide such a distinction, a straightforward application of the first sale doctrine required concluding that it applies overseas.

Applying patent exhaustion to foreign sales is just as straightforward. Patent exhaustion, too, has its roots in the antipathy toward restraints on alienation, and nothing in the Patent Act shows that Congress intended to confine that principle to domestic sales. Differentiating between the patent exhaustion and copyright first sale doctrines would also make little theoretical or practical sense: The two share a “strong similarity . . . and identity of purpose,” Bauer & Cie v. O’Donnell, 229 U. S. 1, 13, and many everyday products are subject to both patent and copyright protections.

Lexmark contends that a foreign sale does not exhaust patent rights because the Patent Act limits a patentee’s power to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing its products to acts that occur in the United States. Because those exclusionary powers do not apply abroad, the patentee may not be able to sell its products overseas for the same price as it could in the United States, and therefore is not sure to receive the reward guaranteed by American patent laws. Without that reward, says Lexmark, there should be no exhaustion.

The territorial limit on patent rights is no basis for distinguishing copyright protections; those do not have extraterritorial effect either. Nor does the territorial limit support Lexmark’s argument. Exhaustion is a distinct limit on the patent grant, which is triggered by the patentee’s decision to give a patented item up for whatever fee it decides is appropriate. The patentee may not be able to command the same amount for its products abroad as it does in the United States. But the Patent Act does not guarantee a particular price. Instead, the Patent Act just ensures that the patentee receives one reward—of whatever it deems to be satisfactory compensation—for every item that passes outside the scope of its patent monopoly.

This Court’s decision in Boesch v. Gräff, 133 U. S. 697, is not to the contrary. That decision did not, as Lexmark contends, exempt all foreign sales from patent exhaustion. Instead, it held that a sale abroad does not exhaust a patentee’s rights when the patentee had nothing to do with the transaction. That just reaffirms the basic premise that only the patentee can decide whether to make a sale that exhausts its patent rights in an item.

Finally, the United States advocates what it views as a middleground position: that a foreign sale exhausts patent rights unless the patentee expressly reserves those rights. This express-reservation rule is based on the idea that overseas buyers expect to be able to use and resell items freely, so exhaustion should be the presumption. But, at the same time, lower courts have long allowed patentees to expressly reserve their rights, so that option should remain open to patentees. The sparse and inconsistent decisions the Government cites, however, provide no basis for any expectation, let alone a settled one, that patentees can reserve rights when they sell abroad. The theory behind the express-reservation rule also wrongly focuses on the expectations of the patentee and purchaser during a sale. More is at stake when it comes to patent exhaustion than the dealings between the parties, which can be addressed through contracts. Instead, exhaustion occurs because allowing patent rights to stick to an already-sold item as it travels through the market would violate the principle against restraints on alienation. As a result, restrictions and location are irrelevant for patent exhaustion; what matters is the patentee’s decision to make a sale. Pp. 13–18.

816 F. 3d 721, reversed and remanded.

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC

Held: As applied to domestic corporations, “reside[nce]” in §1400(b) refers only to the State of incorporation. The amendments to §1391 did not modify the meaning of §1400(b) as interpreted by Fourco. Pp. 3– 10.

(a) The venue provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789 covered patent cases as well as other civil suits. Stonite Products Co. v. Melvin Lloyd Co., 315 U. S. 561, 563. In 1897, Congress enacted a patent specific venue statute. This new statute (§1400(b)’s predecessor) permitted suit in the district of which the defendant was an “inhabitant” or in which the defendant both maintained a “regular and established place of business” and committed an act of infringement. 29 Stat. 695. A corporation at that time was understood to “inhabit” only the State of incorporation. This Court addressed the scope of §1400(b)’s predecessor in Stonite, concluding that it constituted “the exclusive provision controlling venue in patent infringement proceedings” and thus was not supplemented or modified by the general venue provisions. 315 U. S., at 563.

In 1948, Congress recodified the patent venue statute as §1400(b). That provision, which remains unaltered today, uses “resides” instead of “inhabit[s].” At the same time, Congress also enacted the general venue statute, §1391, which defined “residence” for corporate defendants. In Fourco, this Court reaffirmed Stonite’s holding, observing that Congress enacted §1400(b) as a standalone venue statute and that nothing in the 1948 recodification evidenced an intent to alter that status, even the fact that §1391(c) by “its terms” embraced “all actions,” 353 U. S., at 228. The Court also concluded that “resides” in the recodified version bore the same meaning as “inhabit[s]” in the pre-1948 version. See id., at 226.

This landscape remained effectively unchanged until 1988, when Congress amended the general venue statute, §1391(c). The revised provision stated that it applied “[f]or purposes of venue under this chapter.” In VE Holding Corp. v. Johnson Gas Appliance Co., 917 F. 2d 1574, 1578, the Federal Circuit held that, in light of this amendment, §1391(c) established the definition for all other venue statutes under the same “chapter,” including §1400(b). In 2011, Congress adopted the current version of §1391, which provides that its general definition applies “[f]or all venue purposes.” The Federal Circuit reaffirmed VE Holding in the case below. Pp. 3–7. (b) In Fourco, this Court definitively and unambiguously held that the word “reside[nce]” in §1400(b), as applied to domestic corporations, refers only to the State of incorporation. Because Congress has not amended §1400(b) since Fourco, and neither party asks the Court to reconsider that decision, the only question here is whether Congress changed §1400(b)’s meaning when it amended §1391. When Congress intends to effect a change of that kind, it ordinarily provides a relatively clear indication of its intent in the amended provision’s text. No such indication appears in the current version of §1391.

Respondent points out that the current §1391(c) provides a default rule that, on its face, applies without exception “[f]or all venue purposes.” But the version at issue in Fourco similarly provided a default rule that applied “ ‘for venue purposes,’ ” 353 U. S., at 223, and those phrasings are not materially different in this context. The addition of the word “all” to the already comprehensive provision does not suggest that Congress intended the Court to reconsider its decision in Fourco. Any argument based on this language is even weaker now than it was when the Court rejected it in Fourco. Fourco held that §1400(b) retained a meaning distinct from the default definition contained in §1391(c), even though the latter, by its terms, included no exceptions. The current version of §1391 includes a saving clause, which expressly states that the provision does not apply when “otherwise provided by law,” thus making explicit the qualification that the Fourco Court found implicit in the statute. Finally, there is no indication that Congress in 2011 ratified the Federal Circuit’s decision in VE Holding. Pp. 7–10.

821 F. 3d 1338, reversed and remanded.

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Lipitor Antitrust Litigation

A pharmaceutical company holding the patent on a drug sues the manufacturer of a generic version of that drug for patent infringement. The patent-holder and the generic manufacturer later settle, with the former paying the latter not to produce a generic until the patents at issue expire. In FTC v. Actavis, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2233 (2013), the Supreme Court recognized that such a settlement—commonly known as a “reverse payment”—where large and unjustified, can sometimes unreasonably diminish competition in violation of the antitrust laws. To answer the antitrust question, Actavis explained, “it is not normally necessary to litigate patent validity” because “the size of the unexplained reverse payment can provide a workable surrogate for a patent’s weakness.” Id. at 2236-37.

These two sets of consolidated appeals involve allegations that the companies holding the patents for Lipitor and Effexor XR delayed entry into the market of generic versions of those drugs. The companies did so, plaintiffs say, by engaging in an overarching monopolistic scheme that involved fraudulently procuring and enforcing the underlying patents and then entering into a reverse-payment settlement agreement with a generic manufacturer. With a single exception, every complaint asserts one of these monopolization claims against the patent-holders. The cases were assigned to the same district judge, who ultimately dismissed the bulk of plaintiffs’ claims.

In this opinion, we address two questions of federal jurisdiction. First, do plaintiffs’ allegations of fraudulent procurement and enforcement of the patents require us to transfer these appeals to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? That court has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from civil actions “arising under” patent law. 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1). But not all cases presenting questions of patent law necessarily arise under patent law. See Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800 (1986). Where, as here, patent law neither creates plaintiffs’ cause of action nor is a necessary element to any of plaintiffs’ well-pleaded claims, jurisdiction lies in this Court, not the Federal Circuit.

The second jurisdictional question we confront is confined to one of the Lipitor appeals, RP Healthcare, Inc. v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 14-4632. That case, brought by a group of California pharmacists, involves claims solely under California law and was filed in California state court. Following removal the District Court declined to remand the case to state court, citing potential patent defenses. That was error, as federal jurisdiction depends on the content of the plaintiff’s complaint, not a defendant’s possible defenses. Before final judgment, however, the remaining non-diverse defendants were voluntarily dismissed, thus raising the possibility that, notwithstanding the District Court’s failure to remand the case, it possessed diversity jurisdiction before the time it entered judgment. See Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61 (1996). But because the state of the record before us is unclear with regard to the citizenship of the parties, we cannot reach the merits of this appeal until that question is resolved. We will accordingly remand the RP Healthcare appeal to the District Court so it can conduct jurisdictional discovery and address the matter in the first instance.

Download Lipitor Antitrust Litigation

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC

Laches cannot be invoked as a defense against a claim for damages brought within §286’s 6-year limitations period. Pp. 3–16.

(a) Petrella’s holding rested on both separation-of-powers principles and the traditional role of laches in equity. A statute of limitations reflects a congressional decision that timeliness is better judged by a hard and fast rule instead of a case-specific judicial determination. Applying laches within a limitations period specified by Congress would give judges a “legislation-overriding” role that exceeds the Judiciary’s power. 572 U. S., at ___. Moreover, applying laches within a limitations period would clash with the gap-filling purpose for which the defense developed in the equity courts. Pp. 3–5.

(b) Petrella’s reasoning easily fits §286. There, the Court found in the Copyright Act’s language a congressional judgment that a claim filed within three years of accrual cannot be dismissed on timeliness grounds. 572 U. S., at ___. By that same logic, §286 of the Patent Act represents Congress’s judgment that a patentee may recover damages for any infringement committed within six years of the filing of the claim.

First Quality contends that this case differs from Petrella because a true statute of limitations runs forward from the date a cause of action accrues, whereas §286’s limitations period runs backward from the filing of the complaint. However, Petrella repeatedly characterized the Copyright Act’s limitations period as running backward from the date the suit was filed. First Quality also contends that a true statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff discovers a cause of action, which is not the case with §286’s limitations period, but ordinarily, a statute of limitations begins to run on the date that the claim accrues, not when the cause of action is discovered. Pp. 5– 8.

(c) The Federal Circuit based its decision on the idea that §282 of the Patent Act, which provides for “defenses in any action involving the validity or infringement of a patent,” creates an exception to §286 by codifying laches as such a defense, and First Quality argues that laches is a defense within §282(b)(1) based on “unenforceability.” Even assuming that §282(b)(1) incorporates a laches defense of some dimension, it does not necessarily follow that the defense may be invoked to bar a claim for damages incurred within the period set out in §286. Indeed, it would be exceedingly unusual, if not unprecedented, if Congress chose to include in the Patent Act both a statute of limitations for damages and a laches provision applicable to a damages claim. Neither the Federal Circuit, nor any party, has identified a single federal statute that provides such dual protection against untimely claims. Pp. 8–9.

(d) The Federal Circuit and First Quality rely on lower court patent cases decided before the 1952 Patent Act to argue that §282 codified a pre-1952 practice of permitting laches to be asserted against damages claims. But the most prominent feature of the relevant legal landscape at that time was the well-established rule that laches cannot be invoked to bar a claim for damages incurred within a limitations period specified by Congress. In light of this rule, which Petrella confirmed and restated, 572 U. S., at ___, nothing less than a broad and unambiguous consensus of lower court decisions could support the inference that §282(b)(1) codifies a very different patent-law-specific rule. Pp. 9–10.

(e) The Federal Circuit and First Quality rely on three types of cases: (1) pre-1938 equity cases; (2) pre-1938 claims at law; and (3) cases decided after the merger of law and equity in 1938. None of these establishes a broad, unambiguous consensus in favor of applying laches to damages claims in the patent context.

Many of the pre-1938 equity cases do not even reveal whether the plaintiff asked for damages, and of the cases in which damages were sought, many merely suggest in dicta that laches might limit damages. The handful of cases that apply laches against a damages claim are too few to establish a settled, national consensus. In any event, the most that can possibly be gathered from a pre-1938 equity case is that laches could defeat a damages claim in an equity court, not that the defense could entirely prevent a patentee from recovering damages.

Similarly, even if all three pre-1938 cases at law cited by First Quality squarely held that laches could be applied to a damages claim within the limitations period, that number would be insufficient to overcome the presumption that Congress legislates against the background of general common-law principles. First Quality argues that the small number of cases at law should not count against its position because there were few patent cases brought at law after 1870, but it is First Quality’s burden to show that Congress departed from the traditional common-law rule.

As for the post-1938 patent case law, there is scant evidence supporting First Quality’s claim that courts continued to apply laches to damages claims after the merger of law and equity. Only two Courts of Appeals held that laches could bar a damages claim, and that does not constitute a settled, uniform practice of applying laches to damages claims. Pp. 11–15.

(f) First Quality’s additional arguments are unconvincing and do not require extended discussion. It points to post-1952 Court of Appeals decisions holding that laches can be invoked as a defense against a damages claim, but nothing that Congress has done since 1952 has altered §282’s meaning. As for the various policy arguments presented here, this Court cannot overrule Congress’s judgment based on its own policy views. Pp. 15–16.

807 F. 3d 1311, vacated in part and remanded.

Download SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products LLC

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

LIFE TECHNOLOGIES CORP. ET AL. v. PROMEGA CORP.

Held: The supply of a single component of a multicomponent invention for manufacture abroad does not give rise to §271(f)(1) liability. Pp. 4–11.

(a) Section 271(f)(1)’s phrase “substantial portion” refers to a quantitative measurement. Although the Patent Act itself does not define the term “substantial,” and the term’s ordinary meaning may refer either to qualitative importance or to quantitatively large size, the statutory context points to a quantitative meaning. Neighboring words “all” and “portion” convey a quantitative meaning, and nothing in the neighboring text points to a qualitative interpretation. Moreover, a qualitative reading would render the modifying phrase “of the components” unnecessary the first time it is used in §271(f)(1). Only the quantitative approach thus gives meaning to each statutory provision.

Promega’s proffered “case-specific approach,” which would require a factfinder to decipher whether the components at issue are a “substantial portion” under either a qualitative or a quantitative test, is rejected. Tasking juries with interpreting the statute’s meaning on an ad hoc basis would only compound, not resolve, the statute’s ambiguity. And Promega’s proposal to adopt an analytical framework that accounts for both the components’ quantitative and qualitative aspects is likely to complicate rather than aid the factfinder’s review. Pp. 4–8.

(b) Under a quantitative approach, a single component cannot constitute a “substantial portion” triggering §271(f)(1) liability. This conclusion is reinforced by §271(f)’s text, context, and structure. Section 271(f)(1) consistently refers to the plural “components,” indicating that multiple components make up the substantial portion. Reading §271(f)(1) to cover any single component would also leave little room for §271(f)(2), which refers to “any component,” and would undermine §271(f)(2)’s express reference to a single component “especially made or especially adapted for use in the invention.” The better reading allows the two provisions to work in tandem and gives each provision its unique application. Pp. 8–10.

(c) The history of §271(f) further bolsters this conclusion. Congress enacted §271(f) in response to Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp., 406 U. S. 518, to fill a gap in the enforceability of patent rights by reaching components that are manufactured in the United States but assembled overseas. Consistent with Congress’s intent, a supplier may be liable under §271(f)(1) for supplying from the United States all or a substantial portion of the components of the invention or under §271(f)(2) for supplying a single component if it is especially made or especially adapted for use in the invention and not a staple article or commodity. But, as here, when a product is made abroad and all components but a single commodity article are supplied from abroad, the activity is outside the statute’s scope. Pp. 10–11.

773 F. 3d. 1338, reversed and remanded.

Download LIFE TECHNOLOGIES CORP. ET AL. v. PROMEGA

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

ACTOS End-Payor Antitrust Litigation

Plaintiffs allege that the defendants-appellees (collectively “Takeda”) prevented competitors from timely marketing a generic version of Takeda’s diabetes drug ACTOS by falsely describing two patents to the Food and Drug Administration. Plaintiffs claim that these false patent descriptions channeled Takeda’s competitors into a generic drug approval process that granted the first-filing applicants a 180-day exclusivity period, which in turn acted as a 180- day “bottleneck” to all later-filing applicants. Of the ten generic applicants, nine took that route. However, one generic manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. (collectively “Teva”), sought approval via another regulatory mechanism, but was thwarted when the FDA announced that all generic manufacturers would be required to take the bottlenecked route. The FDA’s announcement was expressly based on Takeda’s representations that it had correctly described its patents. Thereafter, Takeda settled pending patent infringement suits with the three first-filing generic manufacturers and Teva on terms that kept them out of the market until August 2012 (though Teva, unlike the three firstfiling generics, could only enter the market as an authorized distributor at that time), and with the other six later-filing generic manufacturers on terms that kept them out of the market for another 180 days after that, i.e., until at least February 2013.

Plaintiffs and the class they seek to represent are drug purchasers who allege that they were wrongfully obliged to pay monopoly prices for ACTOS from January 2011, when Takeda’s patent on the active ingredient in ACTOS expired, to at least February 2013, when the mass of generic market entry occurred.

The district court dismissed plaintiffs’ antitrust claims for failing to plausibly allege that Takeda’s false patent descriptions caused any delay in generic market entry. The district court reasoned that, inter alia, plaintiffs failed to identify a viable regulatory route for generic drug approval that would have avoided the 180-day bottleneck, and that even if they had, they failed to plausibly allege how the generic manufacturers would have avoided Takeda’s infringement lawsuits, all of which were voluntarily settled. Plaintiffs appealed.

To the extent plaintiffs’ theory posits a delay in the marketing of generic alternatives to ACTOS by all the generic applicants other than Teva, we affirm, because plaintiffs’ theory presupposes that these applicants were aware of Takeda’s allegedly false patent descriptions when they filed their applications, which is not supported by well-pleaded allegations. However, because plaintiffs’ theory as to Teva does not require any knowledge of the false patent descriptions, we reach other issues as to Teva and find that plaintiffs plausibly alleged that Takeda delayed Teva’s market entry. We therefore vacate the judgment of the district court to that limited extent.

Download ACTOS End-Payor Antitrust Litigation

Need help protecting your intellectual property? Visit Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how we can help enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.