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Federal Circuit Affirms Validity of Endo Pharmaceuticals Patent for Morphinan Pain Relief Compounds

Federal Circuit

The Federal Circuit held that the place an asserted prior artwork reference incentivizes a sure goal however doesn’t instruct as to how the target ought to be obtained, it doesn’t present a motivation to mix in an obviousness evaluation.

The Federal Circuit just lately affirmed a district courtroom ruling discovering patent infringement after holding that Actavis LLC, Actavis South Atlantic LLC, and Teva Prescription drugs USA, Inc. (collectively, “Actavis”) did not show by clear and convincing proof that the claims asserted by Endo Prescription drugs and Mallinckrodt LLC (collectively, “Endo”) have been invalid. See Endo Pharms., Inc. v. Actavis LLC, No. 2018-1054, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13348 (Fed. Cir. Might three, 2019) (Earlier than Wallach, Clevenger, and Stoll J.) (Opinion for the Courtroom, Wallach, J.) (Dissenting opinion, Stoll, J.). Nevertheless, the choice was not a unanimous one, with Decide Stoll authoring a dissent that may have reversed the district courtroom.

The patent at situation, U.S. Patent No eight,871,779 (the “‘779 patent”), is directed usually to compounds referred to as “morphinan alkaloids,” that are used for ache aid. Extra particularly, the ‘779 patent involved processes for making “extremely pure” morphinan merchandise within the type of hydrochloride salts. Actavis claimed that the ‘779 patent was invalid, citing three key references as prior artwork. The primary reference was a scientific article from 1957 by Ulrich Weiss (the “Weiss reference”) discussing a way for producing oxymorphone, a compound inside the scope of the asserted claims. The second reference was U.S. Patent Software No. 2005/0222188 (the “Chapman reference”), which disclosed a purification course of associated to the asserted claims. Lastly, the third reference was one other article from 1967 by Henry Rapoport et al. (the “Rapoport reference”), which disclosed one other purification course of for oxycodone. The district courtroom discovered that none of those references rendered the asserted claims apparent, and Actavis appealed.

Declare Development

On attraction, Actavis first challenged the district courtroom’s development of the time period “14-hydroxymorphinone,” a element related to the asserted claims. The district courtroom relied on intrinsic proof from the declare language to find out that 14-hydroxymorphinone referred to the salt type of the compound, “14-hydroxymorphinone hydrochloride,” and the Federal Circuit affirmed. The asserted claims claimed solely 14-hydroxymorphinone as part of the salt or hydrochloride type of the disclosed compounds, and never as a separate non-salt or non-hydrochloride element. Extrinsic proof additionally supported this development, as Actavis’s skilled agreed that the disputed time period would discuss with the salt type of the compound. Subsequently, as used within the claims, the Federal Circuit agreed that 14-hydroxymorphinone referred to the salt 14-hydroxymorphinone hydrochloride.


The Federal Circuit then turned to the district courtroom’s obviousness willpower, whereby the Courtroom affirmed that Actavis had not confirmed the ‘779 patent was invalid as apparent by clear and convincing proof. The district courtroom discovered that an individual of atypical talent within the artwork wouldn’t have understood that it was possible to mix the Weiss reference’s course of and the Chapman reference’s course of to yield the claimed compounds and purification ranges. Particularly, the district courtroom discovered that there wouldn’t be an inexpensive expectation of success when combining the teachings of Chapman with the response taught in Weiss as a result of Weiss disclosed a cloth problem that Chapman didn’t present a viable answer for. The district courtroom additionally discovered that the method of Rapaport wouldn’t ever be believed by an individual of abnormal talent to yield a few of the purity ranges described within the ‘779 patent. The Federal Circuit discovered that the district courtroom didn’t err in reaching these conclusions.

The Courtroom additionally referenced the district courtroom’s evaluation of a related Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) communication discussing the issues with impurities in oxymorphone and setting new approval tips for impurity ranges. The district courtroom discovered that this FDA reference launched a mandated market drive incentivizing purification, however it didn’t train how the purification ought to be obtained and subsequently couldn’t function a motivation to mix in an obviousness evaluation. Slightly, the district courtroom discovered that the FDA communication revealed that “the FDA acknowledged the problem the mandate posted for corporations,” and wouldn’t have been sufficient to beat the disclosures of the Weiss, Chapman, and Rapaport references, which an individual of strange talent within the artwork wouldn’t fairly consider might result in the focused purity ranges within the claimed compounds. Lastly, the Courtroom cited to the in depth experimentation undertaken by the inventors of the ‘779 patent to finally produce the compounds referenced within the asserted claims.

Decide Stoll Dissents

Actavis argued, and the bulk dismissed, that the district courtroom had imposed a heightened commonplace in its software of the affordable expectation of success check. Decide Stoll, nevertheless, agreed with Actavis on this level in her dissent. Decide Stoll argued that the FDA regulatory requirement in and of itself disclosed each limitation of declare 1, although the district courtroom discovered that it didn’t disclose something substantively related to obviousness.

She additionally argued that the district courtroom erred by imposing a requirement that a reference should train tips on how to clear up an issue to offer motivation to mix, which conflated the enablement and affordable expectation of success necessities with motivation to mix. Lastly, Decide Stoll felt that the district courtroom utilized an erroneously excessive commonplace for affordable expectation of success by requiring a “particular answer” and proof of precise success, corresponding to by requiring proof that the method carried out within the Rapaport reference was functionally and efficiently used. She reiterated that the usual for obviousness requires solely an inexpensive expectation of success and never proof of precise success.

In conclusion, Decide Stoll famous that:

This isn’t a typical Hatch-Waxman case the place the patentee offered the general public with a brand new drug, formulation, or manufacturing course of. Whereas Mallinckrodt’s patent specification is directed to a selected course of for attaining the FDA’s goal, Mallinckrodt didn’t declare that course of. Mallinckrodt as an alternative claimed the FDA mandate. The FDA sought to make oxymorphone safer for the general public and Mallinckrodt took benefit by claiming the directive itself, securing unique rights to a drug first permitted in 1959. This isn’t the kind of innovation that the patent system and the obviousness commonplace have been designed to guard.

Robert Schaffer & Joseph Robinson

Robert Schaffer & Joseph Robinson


Robert Schaffer is an mental property associate at Troutman Sanders. Bob applies greater than 30 years of expertise to IP counseling and litigation. His work consists of patent procurement, strategic planning and transactional recommendation, due diligence investigations, district courtroom patent instances, and Federal Circuit appeals. He repeatedly handles complicated and high-profile home and worldwide patent portfolios, mental property agreements and licensing, IP evaluations for collaborations, mergers, and acquisitions. In disputed courtroom instances Bob’s work consists of representing and counseling shopper in ANDA litigations, complicated patent infringement instances and appeals, and multidistrict and worldwide instances. In disputed Patent Workplace issues his work consists of representing and counseling shoppers in interferences, reexaminations, reissues, post-grant proceedings, and in European Oppositions. For extra info and to contact Bob please go to his profile web page on the Troutman Sanders web site.

Joseph Robinson has over 20 years of expertise in all features of mental property regulation. He focuses his apply within the pharmaceutical, life sciences, biotechnology, and medical system fields. His follow encompasses litigation, together with Hatch-Waxman litigation; licensing; counseling; due diligence; and patent and trademark prosecution. He has served as litigation counsel in quite a lot of patent and trademark disputes in many various jurisdictions, and has additionally served as appellate counsel earlier than the Courtroom of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Joe additionally focuses on complicated inter partes issues earlier than the united statesPatent and Trademark Workplace, inventorship disputes, reexaminations and reissues. His expertise consists of quite a few interferences, a specific benefit in new U.S. Patent and Trademark Workplace post-grant proceedings. He additionally counsels on patent–associated U.S. Meals and Drug Administration points, together with citizen petitions, Orange E-book itemizing, and trademark points. For extra info and to contact Joe please go to his profile web page on the Troutman Sanders web site.

Robert Schaffer & Joseph Robinson

Dustin Weeks

is a Companion within the mental property follow group at Troutman Sanders. His follow spans all areas of mental property regulation, together with patent prosecution, patent litigation (together with Hatch-Waxman litigation), and shopper counseling. He represents shoppers starting from start-ups and solo inventors to Fortune 500 corporations. Dustin works intently together with his shoppers to study their enterprise goals in order that he can tailor methods to acquire, shield, and implement their mental property. Dustin focuses on post-grant proceedings (e.g. Inter Partes Critiques) earlier than the Patent Trial and Attraction Board (PTAB) the place he has in depth expertise representing each patent house owners and petitioners throughout a variety of applied sciences, together with wi-fi networking, prescription drugs, MEMs units, medical units, and electro-mechanical shopper units. Dustin’s broad expertise in patent prosecution, counseling, and patent litigation uniquely positions him to navigate the blended follow of post-grant proceedings.

For extra info or to contact Dustin, please go to his Agency Profile Web page.

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