Tag Archives: America Invents Act

What Competitors Don’t Know Can Hurt You: SCOTUS Rules Secret Sales Can Trigger On-Sale Bar Under AIA

The Supreme Court of the United States recently affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva Pharmaceuticals, 855 F.3d 1356 (2017), which invalidated a patent-in-suit under the post-AIA on-sale bar. The question presented, answered by the Court in the affirmative, was “[w]hether, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act [AIA], an inventor’s sale of an invention to a third party that is obligated to keep the invention confidential qualifies as prior art for purposes of determining the patentability of the invention.”

Justice Thomas, writing for the Court, concluded that the “on sale” provision in §102(a)(1) of the AIA was a re-enactment of the “on sale” bar provision in the pre-AIA patent statute that did not alter its meaning or interpretation, despite the inclusion of the phrase “or otherwise available to the public” in post-AIA §102(a)(1). Thus, based on the Federal Circuit’s “settled precedent,” and consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, 525 U.S. 55 (1998), the Court held that “a commercial sale to a third party who is required to keep the invention confidential may place the invention ‘on sale’ under [the AIA].” Details of the ruling and some takeaways for companies entering into licenses and supply agreements are discussed below.

Read the full Duane Morris Alert.