HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Monday, October 31, 2005

SCOTUS: Action in 2 Pharm Patent Cases

From Monday's SCOTUSblog:

In [a] patent case, Laboratory Corp. of America v. Metabolite Laborities, Inc., et al. (04-607), the Court granted review of one of three questions presented. The case asks the Court to clarify the legal standard for patentability for a medical process. The question granted involves whether a patent may be granted on a process for detecting a scientific relationship between a medical test result and a medical condition in a patient -- in other words, whether a natural correlation between a scientific fact and a medical condition can be patented, or whether that is a phenomenon of nature that cannot be patented.

In another major patent law case, the Court asked for the views of the U.S. Solicitor General on Federal Trade Commission v. Schering-Plough (05-273). That case tests whether it is a violation of federal antitrust law for the maker of a brand-name drug to pay a potential maker of a competing generic drug to delay putting that alternative drug on the market. The Court had a similar issue before it last term, but denied review after the Justice Department said that the lower court there had gone too far in finding a "per se" violation of antitrust law in such a deal. In the Schering-Plough case, the 11th Circuit ruled that neither a rule-of-reason nor a per se mode of analysis was apprropriate in an antitrust case involving patents. There is no time limit for the Solicitor General to respond. (Justice Stephen G. Breyer is recused in the case.)

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