The 2016 enactment of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) has led to an increase in trade secret litigation. The DTSA codified into federal law the right of an owner of a trade secret to sue in federal court when its trade secret had been misappropriated. Prior to the DTSA, with the absence of diversity jurisdiction, aggrieved trade secret owners had to pursue legal remedies under state law, typically under the Uniform Trade Secret Act (“UTSA”), which has been enacted by 47 states. Notably, the DTSA does not preempt state trade secret laws, therefore, aggrieved trade secret holders may seek civil remedies for alleged misappropriation under either state or federal law or both. Both the DTSA and the UTSA requires the trade secret owner to take reasonable measures to keep the trade secret information secret. The term reasonable can have many meanings in different contexts depending on a multitude of factors. As such, what may be considered reasonable efforts under one set of facts may be deemed deficient under another set of facts.

It has been eight months since the Supreme Court’s landmark copyright fair use decision in Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Art, Inc. v. Goldsmith. Much has been written on the subject, including in this forum, but in many ways it was a narrow decision. The Court held that the commercial licensing of Orange Prince, a work in Andy Warhol’s Prince series based on a photograph by Lynn Goldsmith, was not protected under the first factor of the four-factor fair use test under 17 U.S.C. § 107. Its discussion of the transformative use test emphasized the similarity of the uses the works were put to (depicting Prince on magazine covers), rather than the characteristics of the works themselves. This, the Court said, prevents judges from acting as art critics to determine the aesthetic differences between, or meanings behind, artistic works.

Litigators in the life sciences field are no doubt familiar with the so-called “artificial” act of infringement established by 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(2)(A)-(B): namely, that a party can be sued for patent infringement by merely filing an Abbreviated New Drug Application (“ANDA”) for a generic drug or a Biologics License Application (“BLA”) for a biosimilar drug. The filing of such an action can allow for, among other things, the resolution of patent infringement disputes before the generic (or biosimilar) drug enters the market. 

Recently, in Purdue Pharma L.P. v. Collegium Pharmaceutical, Inc., the Federal Circuit held for the first time that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”) has the authority to issue a Final Written Decision even after the statutory deadline has passed.

Congress introduced post grant review (“PGR”) and inter partes review (“IPR”) in 2011 as part of the America Invents Act (AIA). Parties can use these processes to ask the Board to review the patentability of a patent’s claims. Under the AIA, the Board must provide a Final Written Decision within one year of instituting the PGR or IPR; this can be extended for good cause for an additional six months.

Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California recently dismissed toy manufacturer Tangle’s copyright and trade dress suit against fashion retailer Aritzia. The suit was brought over Aritzia’s use of sculptures resembling Tangle’s toys in its window displays. Judge White’s decision serves as a reminder that copyright protection only extends to works that have been “fixed” in a tangible medium of expression; an artist’s “[s]tyle, no matter how creative, is an idea, and is not protectable by copyright.” Tangle Inc. v. Aritzia, Inc.

In an unprecedented PTAB decision involving Spectrum Solutions LLC (“Spectrum”) (Petitioner) and Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics (“Longhorn”) (Patent Owner), the Board found all five challenged patents invalid and imposed sanction against patent owner Longhorn for failure to meet the duty of candor and fair dealing. The board determined that Longhorn selectively disclosed testing results to support its claim construction and misled its technical expert with incomplete laboratory data, thereby failed to meet its duty of candor and fair dealing in its actions before the Board. The claims and substitute claims in all five patents asserted by Longhorn were unpatentable due to its sanctionable misconduct. Longhorn was also ordered to provide Spectrum compensatory expenses including attorney fees. On one hand, it is a reminder that duty of candor is a continuing obligation that cannot be ignored even during the IPR proceeding.  On the other hand, it does raise the question whether the PTAB has the authority to invalidate a patent for misconduct. 

In order to prepare and prosecute utility, design, and plant patent matters in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO” or “Office”), the USPTO requires practitioners to demonstrate possession of the legal, scientific, and technical qualifications necessary to render valuable service to clients. See 37 CFR 11.7(a)(2)(ii).

Cell therapy products in the U.S. are estimated to be worth approximately $4.5 billion currently and expected to grow to over $30 billion in the next ten years. As market value increases litigation is bound to heat up.

Recently, Fate Therapeutics and the Whitehead Institute sued Shoreline Biosciences in the Southern District of California for allegedly infringing six patents directed to composition and methods relating to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) directly under 35 U.S.C. §§ 271(a) and (g), and for inducing infringement. Fate’s infringement theories included both literal infringement and infringement under the Doctrine of Equivalents. The court granted summary judgment of noninfringement to Shoreline for all asserted claims.