Federal Circuit Revives Life-Sciences Patent Directed to Law of NatureJuly 6, 2016

On Tuesday, the Federal Circuit revived a life-sciences patent that was invalidated as being directed to a law of nature. The patent involved a method for multiple freeze-thaw cycles in liver cells. In Vitro Technologies designed the method by using previously frozen cells and then pooling the cells that remained viable for re-freezing and thawing later.

In Vitro brought an infringement suit against CellzDirect in the federal court for Northern Illinois. The circuit judge granted CellzDirect’s motion for summary judgment based on the Mayo and Alice decisions. He found that In Vitro merely applied the well-known practice of cryogenics to discover a new feature of liver cells without an inventive concept. In Vitro appealed.

The Federal Circuit vacated that ruling, holding that a patent directed to a law of nature is not automatically invalid. The use of conventional methods in an unconventional manner can be enough to create an inventive concept. Here, a unanimous panel decided that In Vitro’s method contained an inventive concept because the science of cryogenics previously limited liver cells to a single freeze-thaw cycle.

The decision stands in contrast to the many patents the Federal Circuit has invalidated since the Supreme Court’s Mayo decision in 2012. This is good news for life-sciences claims, as there is now more guidance on how to meet the section 101 test.

The case Is Rapid Litigation Management Ltd., Formerly Celsis Holdings Inc., and In Vitro Inc. v. CellzDirect and Invitrogen Corp, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit No. 15-1570

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