SNIPR Technologies Ltd. v. Rockefeller University, No. 22-1260 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
SNIPR's patents, directed to methods of selectively killing bacteria using CRISPR gene editing, claim priority to a 2016 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Application. Because their effective filing dates are after March 2013, they are pure America Invents Act (AIA) patents, examined and issued under first-inventor-to-file patentability requirements. The Rockefeller Application is also directed to selectively killing bacteria. It claims priority to a 2014 PCT Application and a February 2013 U.S. Provisional Application; it is a pure pre-AIA application.
The Patent Board declared an interference to determine which party was the first to invent, then identified Rockefeller as the senior party, with an accorded benefit date of February 2013, and SNIPR as the junior party, with a May 2016 accorded benefit date (the date for which the Board recognizes that a patent application provides a proper constructive reduction to practice of the invention under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g)(1)). SNIPR unsuccessfully moved to terminate, arguing that the AIA eliminated interferences for AIA patents. The Board reasoned that pre-AIA patent claims must “comply with [pre-AIA] 35 U.S.C. 102(g),” which requires an interference. SNIPR had not filed any priority statement asserting an invention date earlier than Rockefeller’s earliest accorded benefit date and failed to overcome Rockefeller’s senior party status. The Board canceled the SNIPR Patents.
The Federal Circuit reversed. Pure AIA patents may not be part of an interference. SNIPR’s pure AIA patents were examined and issued under the AIA’s first-inventor-to-file patentability requirements and cannot be canceled under the pre-AIA invention priority requirements.