Berkeley Files Opening Brief in CRISPR Appeal

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP
Contact

The University of California/Berkeley filed its opening brief to the Federal Circuit last week, asking that Court to overturn the Patent Trial and Appeal Board's decision that there was no interference-in-fact between Berkeley's application and several U.S. patents and applications assigned to The Broad Institute.  That decision is entitled to review under the substantial evidence standard for the Board's factual determinations, but de novo review for the PTAB's legal determination that Broad's claims-in-interference would not have been obvious in view of the claimed invention in Berkeley's earlier-filed patent application.

To recap, the Board found that there was no interference-in-fact based on these requirements:

In this proceeding, to prevail on its argument that there is no interference, Broad must show that the parties' claims do not meet at least one of the following two conditions:

1) that, if considered to be prior art to UC's claims, Broad's involved claims would not anticipate or render obvious UC's involved claims, or

2) that, if considered to be prior art to Broad's claims, UC's involved claims would not anticipate or render obvious Broad's claims.

Broad will prevail and a determination of no interference-in-fact will be made if a preponderance of the evidence indicates one of these conditions is not met.

In considering the evidence before it, the PTAB gave great weight to contemporaneous, cautious statements in the art in view of Professor Doudna's disclosure of in vitro CRISPR activity regarding whether the system would work in eukaryotic cells.  Specifically, these statements convinced the Board that while the results "suggested the 'exciting possibility'" that CRISPR-Cas9 could be operative in eukaryotic cells, "it was not known whether such a bacterial system would function in eukaryotic cells."  And, "[i]n another report, Doudna was quoted as stating that she had experienced 'many frustrations' getting CRISPR to work in human cells and that she knew that if she succeeded, CRISPR would be 'a profound discovery.'"  UC's assertion of other statements by their inventors that could be interpreted more positively did not convince the Board that there was a reasonable expectation of success in the art for getting the CRISPR-Cas9 system to work in eukaryotic cells, the Board stating that:

Although the statements express an eagerness to learn the results of experiments in eukaryotic cells and the importance of such results, none of them express an expectation that such results would be successful.

The Board swept aside Berkeley's arguments that this reasoning was flawed because the standard is not the inventor's expectations but those of the worker of ordinary skill by stating that "if the inventors themselves were uncertain, it seems that ordinarily skilled artisans would have been even more uncertain."  The Board also quoted Berkeley's expert as having said (contemporaneously with Professor Doudna's report of in vitro CRISPR activity):

There is no guarantee that Cas9 will work effectively on a chromatin target or that the required DNA-RNA hybrid can be stabilized in that context.

The Board concluded that "[w]e fail to see how 'no  guarantee' indicates an expectation of success."

Nor was the Board convinced based on the history of the development of CRISPR technology, which showed that many laboratories independent of the Doudna group quickly applied the new technology to manipulate eukaryotic cell genomic DNA:

Regardless of how many groups achieved success in eukaryotic cells, we are not persuaded that such success indicates there was an expectation of success before the results from these experiments were known.  The unpublished results of research groups are not necessarily an indication of whether ordinarily skilled artisans would have expected the results achieved.  Instead of viewing such work as evidence of an expectation of success, we consider the number of groups who attempted to use CRISPR-Cas9 in eukaryotic cells to be evidence of the motivation to do so, an issue that is not in dispute.  We agree with Broad's argument that a large reward might motivate persons to try an experiment even if the likelihood of success is very low.

On balance, the Board found that this evidence further supported their decision that there was insufficient evidence of a reasonable expectation of success to support Berkeley's allegation that their earlier work and publications would have rendered Broad's invention obvious.  This evidence was that "differences in gene expression, protein folding, cellular compartmentalization, chromatin structure, cellular nucleases, intracellular temperature, intracellular ion concentrations, intracellular pH, and the types of molecules in prokaryotic versus eukaryotic cells, would contribute to this unpredictability [regarding whether the CRISPR-Cas9 system would be operative in eukaryotic cells]."  In response to Berkeley's allegations that these considerations turned out not to be an impediment to CRISPR's activity in eukaryotic cells, the Board said "[t]he relevant question before us is whether those of skill in the art would have expected there to be problems before the experiments were done," not whether it turned out that the experiments were successful once they were tried.

Finally, the Board rejected Berkeley's citation of other prokaryotic genetic modification systems found to work in eukaryotes, generally on the grounds that there was no "commonality" in these methods that would have refuted Broad's evidence that the skilled worker would not have had any reasonable expectation of success.

In its brief, Berkeley found fault with both the Board's factual determinations and its legal conclusions (although wisely focusing the majority of their 64-page brief on their legal arguments).  These arguments begin with Berkeley's allegation that the PTAB applied an incorrect legal standard for obviousness that cannot be reconciled with the Supreme Court's KSR v. Teleflex Int'l precedent as has been further explicated by the Federal Circuit (most notably in In re Kubin).  Specifically, Berkeley's brief characterizes the Board's analysis as requiring "specific instructions" in the prior art regarding adapting CRIPSR as demonstrated in bacterial systems to use in eukaryotic cells.  This application of the obviousness analysis constitutes a standard "even more rigid" than the Federal Circuit's "teaching-suggestion-motivation test" that the Court "rejected" (albeit not entirely) in KSR.  Citing Kubin and In re O'Farrell, 853 F.2d 894, 903 (Fed. Cir. 1988), Berkeley contends that:

This Court has explained how KSR applies in the context of an "unpredictable art" such as biotechnology.  Kubin, 561 F.3d at 1359-60.  In such fields, the obviousness inquiry should not focus exclusively on the degree of ex ante predictive confidence that a potential solution will succeed, because "for many inventions that seem quite obvious, there is no absolute predictability of success until the invention is reduced to practice" through experimentation.  In re O'Farrell, 853 F.2d 894, 903 (Fed. Cir. 1988).  Rather, the focus should be on the extent of the guidance provided by the prior art—and therefore the extent to which a skilled artisan must innovate beyond that guidance to achieve the solution.  Kubin, 561 F.3d at 1359-60 (the question is whether the claimed advance reflects innovation beyond "the predictable use of prior art elements according to their established functions") (quoting KSR, 550 U.S. at 417).

The "key insight" provided by KSR, according to the brief, is that "when the prior art contains sufficient guidance to enable one skilled in the art to draw on well-known conventional techniques to achieve an advance without any genuine innovation, mere ex ante uncertainty about whether such routine efforts will succeed does not elevate a 'product . . . of ordinary skill and common sense' to the status of a patentable invention," citing KSR.  This is a theme that runs throughout the body of the arguments in the brief.  And, according to Berkeley, applying this "more rigid" standard was legal error by the PTAB.

The brief also asserts as another major theme that the Board erred for not considering contemporaneous evidence of "simultaneous invention," providing a tabulation of the scientific publications that appeared in the art just before and just after Broad's first-filed provisional application:

Table


The presence of this art "can be compelling evidence" of obviousness (the inverse of long-felt need and failure of others) as a secondary consideration, and Berkeley argues that the Board committed legal error in failing to properly consider this evidence.  The Board did consider this evidence, of course, but only to support its appreciation that there was express motivation in the art to apply CRISPR to eukaryotic systems, not to support Berkeley's contention that the skilled worker would have had a reasonable expectation of success.

With regard to the question of expectation of success, the brief argues that this evidence of contemporaneous "invention" by several other groups, and the conventionality of the methods used by these groups (and Broad) in using CRISPR in eukaryotes is strong evidence that this accomplishment required no "innovation" and no "invention" independent of Professors Doudna and Charpentier's disclosure of CRISPR in prokaryotes (in the Jinek 2012 paper published prior to Broad's earliest provisional filing date).

The brief asserts that the Board misinterpreted the scientifically cautious statements by Professor Doudna and other Berkeley experts regarding whether CRISPR was "expected" to be operative in eukaryotic cells.  The "fundamental error" in the Board's consideration of these statements was that they were "imbue[d] . . . with significance divorced from the context in which they were made," which was not as an opinion regarding whether there was a reasonable expectation of success that CRISPR would be operative in eukaryotic cells according to the brief.  Taken as a whole, according to the brief, the prior art establishes that the skilled worker would have had a reasonable expectation of success in using CRISPR in eukaryotes.

The brief also faults the Board for not considering a provisional application by Kim (U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/717,324, filed October 23, 2012, and later published as U.S. Application No. 14/685,568) as prior art under 35 U.S.C. §102(e).  (In many ways this is the brief's strongest argument, because this reference is clearly prior art to the earliest-filed Broad provisional, and Berkeley has a strong argument that the Board not considering it was legal error.)

Finally, Berkeley argues that Broad had not shown that it was entitled to the December 12, 2012 filing date of its earlier provisional.  According to the brief, the Board should have considered October 15, 2013 as the relevant "end date" for considering prior art; if it had done so, many of the references not considered by the Board (set forth in the table above) would have made it impossible for Broad to satisfy its burden of proof that its claims were not obvious.  Instead, the brief contends that the Board "assume without analysis" that Broad was entitled to its December 12, 2012 first provisional filing date for its "hundreds of involved claims," a conclusion Berkeley contends was error.

Broad will have the opportunity to make its arguments in favor of the Board's decision in the coming months; oral argument should be scheduled for some time before the end of the year.

Written by:

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP
Contact
more
less

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

Related Case Law

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at privacy@jdsupra.com.

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com. We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit legal.hubspot.com/privacy-policy.
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit www.newrelic.com/privacy.
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit www.google.com/policies. To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout. This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit http://www.aboutcookies.org which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.