Guest Post by Jordan Duenckel. Jordan is a third-year law student at the University of Missouri, head of our IP student association, and a registered patent agent. He has an extensive background in chemistry and food science.
Medytox, Inc. has appealed a decision made by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board regarding a post-grant review proceeding under the new Pilot Program. Medytox’s motion to amend the claim language, which aimed to substitute claims 19–27 of U.S. Patent No. 10,143,728 (‘728 patent), was denied by the Board for lack of enablement. Additionally, Medytox questions the Board’s Pilot Program regarding motion to amend practice and procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act. In Medytox v. Galderma, 2022-1165, — F.4th — (Fed. Cir. Jun. 27, 2023), Judge Reyna (joined by Judges Dyk and Stark) affirmed the Board’s determinations involving claim construction, enablement, arbitrary and capricious behavior under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
The ’728 patent is directed to the use of an animal-protein-free botulinum toxin composition that exhibits a longer-lasting effect in the patient compared to an animal protein-containing botulinum toxin composition. ’728 Patent, col. 2 ll. 57–62. Used to treat glabellar wrinkle lines and possibly chronic migraines, this botulinum toxin is claimed to have a greater length of efficacy than BOTOX®. While a deadly foodborne pathogen that can be present in canned food, modified botulinum toxin can be used as a cosmetic treatment in reducing wrinkling as well as other aesthetic applications.
Galderma S.A. submitted a petition for post-grant review of claims 1–10 of the ‘728 patent. Following the PTAB granting review, Medytox filed a motion to amend that sought to cancel claims 1–10 and introduce claims 11–18 instead. Medytox also requested the Board to provide Preliminary Guidance based on the Pilot Program, which relates to the practice and procedures for motions to amend. The Pilot Program allows a patent owner to receive Preliminary Guidance from the Board regarding its motion or to file a revised motion to amend. The Preliminary Guidance is an initial nonbinding discussion about whether there is a reasonable likelihood that the motion to amend meets the statutory and regulatory requirements. Read more about the Pilot Program here, 84 Fed. Reg. 9,497.
Galderma S.A. objects to the new claims claiming that they introduce new matter that is not disclosed in the specification. The new claim language claims that the responder rate at sixteen weeks is a range between 50% and 100%. The responder rate, in the context of the ’728 patent, is the proportion of patients who responded favorably to the animal protein-free botulinum composition expressed as a percentage. Galderma asserts that the original specification only discloses a responder rate up to 62% so anything above that is a range that is not fully enabled. The preliminary guidance was issued by the Board and stated that Medytox did not show a reasonable likelihood that the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 326(d) and 37 C.F.R. § 42.221(a) were met to file a motion to amend. Significantly, the Board also gave its “preliminary view” that Medytox’s proposed responder-rate limitation did not add new matter. In order to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements, Medytox filed a revised motion to amend which was denied due to the introduction of new matter.
The responder rate substitute claim language was determined to have a scope of 50% to 100% based on the claim construction. Medytox relies on multiple clinical trials in their specification to show the actual responder rate that they attained. However, the highest rate achieved was 62% leaving a significant portion of the range unenabled with no clear direction on how to enable the rest of the claims. Relying on the Wands factors to conclude that the full scope of the claim was not enabled without undue experimentation.
Judge Reyna also references the recent Amgen v. Sanofi to require that the full scope of the claims must be enabled. Not enabling such a large range of the scope of the claims makes the lack of enablement seem more clear-cut in light of Amgen. While a different factual background from Amgen, not providing clear instructions to enable 76% of the claimed range is a more clear example of not enabling the full scope than the monoclonal antibodies of Amgen.
Medytox also challenges that the Board’s revision of its claim construction of the responder rate limitation made between its Preliminary Guidance and final written decision violated the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) because it was arbitrary and capricious and deprived it of a full and fair opportunity to litigate. Citing 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), Medytox specifically asserts that the Board reversed its decision based on a nearly identical record rending the reversal arbitrary and capricious. The USPTO Director intervened to explain that the Board’s Preliminary Guidance was “initial, preliminary, and nonbinding.”
Likewise, the significant extrinsic evidence that warranted the reversal of the determination was developed after the Preliminary Guidance was issued. The claim construction regarding the responder rate limitation, expert testimony, briefing regarding written description, and subsequent oral argument on the limitation were all developed after the Preliminary Guidance. Based on the totality of the record, the reversal of the claim construction was not arbitrary and capricious. The guidance program is meant to be an effort to provide some direction to the patent owner and not be a binding decision. At oral arguments, the Board expressed multiple concerns about the responder rate limitation and Medytox did not adequately remedy the issue. As such, the Board had plenty of evidence to base their reversal.