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The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against global biotechnology tools company Life Technologies Corporation, finding that it infringed against Celsis In Vitro’s so-called LiverPool patent.
The LiverPool patent describes various methods for producing cryopreserved human hepatocytes, which are cells of the main tissue of a human liver. Human hepatocytes are reportedly very fragile and hard to cryopreserve. The article in question in the case was a heaptocyte product produced by Life Technologies through the alleged use of Celsis’ patented method.
A lower court granted the injunction and Life Technologies appealed the decision to the Federal Circuit primarily based on its disagreement that there was a "likelihood of success on the merits" in Celsis' infringement claim.
The Federal Circuit found no reversible error in the reasoning offered by Judge Milton I Shadur and upheld the injunction. Notably, the Federal Circuit held that Celsis had successfully defeated the petitioner's obviousness challenge, emphasizing that "the art was a crowded field for many years and yet there was not one reference to multi-cryopreservation."
Celsis, of course, was ecstatic over the victory: "The entire life science industry secured an important victory today and should be incentivized to continue their diligent efforts to innovate new technologies that improve the quality of human life," said Jay le Coque, CEO of Celsis.
However, the Federal Circuit's decision had the dissent criticizing the court's interpretation of the obviousness standard and holding defendants "to a clear and convincing standard of proof."
The disagreement over deciding questions of obviousness has had some miss Judge Learned Hand's wisdom:
"Courts, made up of laymen as they must be, are likely either to underrate, or to overrate, the difficulties in making new and profitable discoveries in with which they cannot be familiar," Hand wrote in an opinion.