In re: Janssen Biotech, Inc., No. 17-1257 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in an ex parte reexamination of Janssen’s 471 patent, affirmed the rejection of claims 1–7 as unpatentable under the doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting, which is intended to prevent the extension of the term of a patent by prohibiting the issuance of the claims of a second patent that are not patentably distinct from the claims of the first patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Janssen’s argument that obviousness-type double patenting is not applicable under the safe-harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. 121. The safe harbor, “protects only divisional applications (or the original application) and patents issued on such applications.” A patent owner cannot retroactively bring its challenged patent within the scope of the safe-harbor provision by amendment in a reexamination proceeding. Once the 471 patent issued on the 093 application, which, at the time of issuance included new matter not disclosed in the original application and so was a properly designated a continuation-in-part, the 471 patent was barred from safe-harbor protections. Janssen cannot establish that the PTO is “solely responsible” for any alleged delay associated with the 471 claims, so the two-way test for double patenting does not apply.