Stanford University v. Chinese University of Hong Kong, No. 15-2011 (Fed. Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The claims at issue involve testing methods for fetal aneuploidies, conditions in which a fetus either has an abnormally high number of chromosomes (e.g., Down’s syndrome) or an abnormally low number (e.g., Turner’s syndrome). Previously, physicians diagnosed fetal aneuploidies using invasive amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling or less invasive methods, such as ultrasonography and biochemical marker detection that had suboptimal accuracy. In three interference proceedings between Stanford and Chinese University, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that Stanford’s claims were unpatentable for lack of written description. The Federal Circuit vacated, finding that the Board relied on improper evidence and did not cite other substantial evidence to support its key findings. Whether a patent claim satisfies the written description requirement, 35 U.S.C. 112, depends on whether the description clearly allows persons of ordinary skill in the art to recognize that the inventor invented what is claimed. On remand, the Board should examine whether a person of ordinary skill would have understood that the patent’s specification disclosed random MPS sequencing and would have known, as of the priority date, that the specification’s reference to Illumina products meant random MPS sequencing as recited in the claims, by examining the record evidence as to pre-filing date art-related facts on Illumina products.