Solicitor General’s Brief Suggests That Proof of Infringement by a Patent Owner Does Not Require a Heightened Standard

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The Solicitor General suggested that the Supreme Court should deny certiorari in the matter of Saint-Gobain Ceramics v. Siemens Med. Solutions USA Inc., No. 11-301 because the Federal Circuit applied the appropriate standard – preponderance of the evidence – even in the narrow circumstance in which a product that “incorporates a patented improvement is alleged to infringe an earlier patent under the doctrine of equivalents.”

Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc. (Siemens) is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 4,958,080 (‘080 patent). Siemens also develops, manufactures and sells Positron emission tomography (PET) scanners. PET is a nuclear medical imaging technique that provides images and information about the chemical structure and function of a patient’s organ systems. The scintillator crystals in Siemens’ PET scanners consist of cerium-doped lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO). Saint-Gobain Ceramics & Plastics, Inc. (Saint-Gobain) manufactures and sells scintillator crystals for use in PET scanners under a non-exclusive license to U.S. Patent No. 6,624,420 (‘420 patent). Saint- Gobain’s crystals consist of cerium-doped lutetium-yttrium orthosilicate (LYSO), which differs chemically from LSO in that 10 percent of the lutetium atoms are substituted with yttrium atoms. Siemens filed a suit against Saint-Gobain in the United States District of Delaware for contributory and induced infringement of the ‘080 patent, which claimed a “detector comprising a scintillator composed of a transparent single crystal of cerium-activated lutetium oxyorthosilicate” (LSO).

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