Dr. Zuhn has been covering patent happenings at the BIO Conference. His article discussing a panel on suggestions for fixing the USPTO is a great read. The theme presented by Sherry Knowles (from GSK) is one that many Patently-O readers understand - stakeholders cannot count on someone else to address problems at at the PTO.
John Duffy, who participated followed-up with a note about GSK's role in the case of Tafas v. Dudas.
GSK has been very well served by its attorneys, which includes an excellent team of lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis headed by John M. Desmarais. They've been successful in winning 99% of what GSK wanted. The rules still aren't in effect, and they are unlikely ever to go into effect without substantial revision. Moreover, as for the last 1% percent that GSK attorneys weren’t able to win, I don't think any attorneys could have won. The administrative law issues in the case were always very difficult for GSK’s position. I don’t think any set of attorneys could have produced a better result, and I don’t doub t that GSK’s lawyers recognize that Supreme Court review would have its risks.
Duffy also discussed the potential risks of a Supreme Court decision in Tafas v. Dudas.
Judge Prost did a masterful job on the administrative law issues in the Tafas case. If the case were appealed to the Supreme Court, I think the Court would largely affirm her opinion. The most difficult issue in the case has always been whether, giving the agency’s rules an appropriate amount of Chevron deference, a court should nonetheless hold Final Rule 78 inconsistent with the clear meaning of section 120 of the Patent Act. Judge Prost ruled against the agency on that issue, and her result seems to me to be one reasonable resolution of a difficult issue. But the issue is a close one, as even Judge Bryson’s concurrence suggests. If Tafas were to be heard by the Supreme Court, it is entirely possible that the Justices (a majority of whom either have taught ad law or have served on the ad law-heavy D.C. Circuit) might give the agency a bit more deference than the Federal Circuit panel did. Thus, if the case went to the Supreme Co urt, I think likely outcomes would be either a complete affirmance or a reversal limited to the one issue that GSK won at the Federal Circuit.
- The White House has again recognized Peer-to-Patent as an example of "approachable government." http://www.whitehouse.gov/newmedia/. ("Improves the quality of issued patents").