Earlier this month, in Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., C.A. No. 08-464 (D. Del. Jan. 7, 2011), Chief Judge Bartle, sitting by designation from the District of New Jersey, issued a memorandum opinion addressing several invalidity issues raised during a three-day bench trial, including inequitable conduct, anticipation, and obviousness-type double patenting. The Court rejected all of Defendants’ invalidity grounds, and held that the patent claims at issue were not invalid.
The opinion addresses an interesting obviousness-type double patenting claim. Because the patents at issue straddled the June 8, 1995 patent term change, Plaintiff’s later-filed and later-granted patent will expire before its two earlier-filed patents that covered a broader subject matter. Id. at 24. Defendants argued that the earlier-filed, broader patents should be invalidated under obviousness-type double patenting because they unjustly extend protection over the narrower subject matter of the later-filed, but earlier-expiring patent. Despite some precedent for this theory (a Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences opinion), the Court rejected it, holding that “the later-filed, later-issued . . . patent could not and did not create an ‘unjustified timewise extension’ of the earlier-filed, earlier-issued . . . patents.” Id. at 27 (quoting In re Schneller, 397 F.2d 350, 354 (C.C.P.A. 1968)).