En Banc Oral Argument in Therasense, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Co.

The Federal Circuit sat en banc today to hear oral argument in Therasense, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Co., 2008-1511, a case concerning alleged inequitable conduct during patent prosecution.  The issues on appeal are available here: [En Banc Order].  Namely,

1. Should the materiality-intent-balancing framework for inequitable conduct be modified or replaced?  

2. If so, how? In particular, should the standard be tied directly to fraud or unclean hands? See Precision Instrument Mfg. Co. v. Auto. Maint. Mach. Co., 324 U.S. 806 (1945); Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. v. Hartford-Empire Co., 322 U.S. 238 (1944), overruled on other grounds by Standard Oil Co. v. United States, 429 U.S. 17 (1976); Keystone Driller Co. v. Gen. Excavator Co., 290 U.S. 240 (1933). If so, what is the appropriate standard for fraud or unclean hands?

3. What is the proper standard for materiality? What role should the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rules play in defining materiality? Should a finding of materiality require that but for the alleged misconduct, one or more claims would not have issued?  

4. Under what circumstances is it proper to infer intent from materiality? See Kingsdown Med. Consultants, Ltd. v. Hollister Inc., 863 F.2d 867 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (en banc).

5. Should the balancing inquiry (balancing materiality and intent) be abandoned?

6. Whether the standards for materiality and intent in other federal agency contexts or at common law shed light on the appropriate standards to be applied in the patent context.




You can listen to the en banc oral argument here: [Listen].

The case was previously argued before a three judge panel (Judges Linn, Dyk, and Friedman).  The recording of that oral argument is available here: [Listen].  That panel’s opinion which was later vacated for purposes of en banc review is available here: [Read].

Comments are closed.