Federal Circuit Rules Against PTO’s Interpretation of Patent Term Adjustments
By Gary Pong – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich
Wyeth and Elan Pharma Int’l Ltd. v. Kappos, No. 2009-1120 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 7, 2010).
The Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court for the District of Columbia, which had granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, and held that they were “entitled to extended patent term adjustments under 35 U.S.C. § 154(b) due to the Patent and Trademark Office’s (“PTO’s”) delay in prosecuting their patent applications.”
In promulgating 37 C.F.R. § 1.703(f), the PTO had interpreted § 154(b) as limiting the length of patent term adjustments to the greater of the statutory delay periods, without the possibility of ever combining the two. The Federal Circuit concluded that this reading was “contrary to the plain language of the statute,” and declined to afford Chevron deference to the agency’s interpretation, holding that the PTO “does not have authority to issue substantive rules, only procedural regulations regarding the conduct of proceedings before the agency.”
Patent Docs provides an overview of the case. In another article, Patent Docs also provides insight into the PTO’s future course of action. Patent Prospector features a thorough analysis of the judicial opinion. (more…)