Ferring B.V. v. Allergan, Inc., No. 20-1098 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Fein was a consultant for Ferring Pharmaceuticals, involved in a project involving desmopressin, a synthetic analog of the naturally occurring hormone arginine vasopressin, which regulates the body’s retention of water. Fein suggested administration as a waterless orodispersible form to improve the bioavailability of the desmopressin. In 2002, Ferring filed a Great Britain Patent Application, covering an orodispersible desmopressin formulation but did not list any inventors. When Ferring experienced production delays, it undertook another clinical study with an intravenous desmopressin formulation. Fein was selected to oversee the U.S. study and suggested certain changes. After Ferring terminated Fein’s consulting agreement, both parties continued to test various formulations. Both Ferring and Fein filed patent applications. Fein’s company sold the right to commercialize a low-dose desmopressin intranasal spray.
Ferring unsuccessfully requested reexamination of Fein’s patent, then filed a complaint asserting state law claims and claims for correction of inventorship of the Fein patents under 35 U.S.C. 256. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment, finding that conduct occurring before the issuance of Fein's patents could give rise to equitable estoppel of claims for correction of inventorship. The court noted Ferring’s inaction for over seven years following letters from Fein’s attorney. On counterclaims for correction of inventorship of Ferring’s patents, the court granted Ferring judgment. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded for further development of the record, noting the fact-laden equitable issue and the need to avoid a rush to judgment.