Supreme Court Affirms: High Level of Proof Needed to Invalidate A Patent

Patently BIOtech

Posted by Stephanie Fischer on June 10, 2011 at 3:29pm EDT on BIOtech Now

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a favorable decision yesterday in the critical case of Microsoft v. i4i, in which Microsoft challenged the “clear and convincing evidence” standard traditionally used by courts in determining whether to invalidate an issued U.S. patent.   Microsoft argued for a lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard, under which patents could be invalidated by a mere “more likely than not” determination by a court or jury.  In a joint amicus brief with CropLife International and the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM),  BIO argued that there are strong legal and policy justifications for a heightened standard in terms of investment in and reliance on patents to fuel R&D and innovation.

BIO also joined 260 other stakeholders representing U.S. innovation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to express concerns about potentially negative consequences for domestic innovation, job growth and our nation’s technology leadership internationally in a letter to the Attorney General and Acting Solicitor General which likely helped persuade the U.S. Solicitor General to file a strongly supportive and influential brief.

The Court ruled 8-0 (with Chief Justice Roberts recusing himself) against Microsoft, holding that the standard for invalidating a patent in the courts remains “clear and convincing evidence,” regardless of whether the precise prior art cited to support invalidation was considered by the PTO or not.

This decision is a huge relief for the biotechnology industry, which relies heavily on the presumed validity of patents to generate investment and a reasonable return thereon.

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One Response to Supreme Court Affirms: High Level of Proof Needed to Invalidate A Patent

  1. I’m quite pleased that the Justices defied pundits’ predictions and issued this ruling — I always thought i4i had the stronger arguments, not to mention many years of tradition and precedent on its side. Moreover, I think there’s a decent argument that a strong presumption of validity is indicated in the Constitution; and, on a policy note, in countries with weaker patent rights, there lurks always the danger that well-funded entities can use that lesser standard to bankrupt patentees, or even to deprive them of their IP altogether. Thank you, SCOTUS; well done.

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