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.
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.
Recently, in Google LLC v. Ikongoro Tech. LLC, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board” or “PTAB”) instituted inter partes review after it had previously denied the institution of such a review due to the pendency of related district court litigation in the Western District of Texas—a case which was subsequently transferred to the Northern District of California by the Federal Circuit granting mandamus relief. The Board’s decision casts light on the interplay between the PTAB’s discretion to deny institution of inter partes review and the increased focus on transfers out of the Western District of Texas.