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May 28, 2007
 |  BioCentury  |  Regulation

Raising the disclosure hurdle

A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that rendered a patent unenforceable regardless of its validity highlights an old problem in the law that makes it easier to get rid of patents. Many stakeholders believe the "inequitable conduct" doctrine should be repealed or amended in the patent reform bills that are currently in the House and Senate.

The case, McKesson Information Solutions Inc. v. Bridge Medical Inc., concerns McKesson's U.S. Patent No. 4,857,716, which covers a system for identifying items, such as drugs, that correspond with hospital patients. The system uses a wireless handheld device to read a patient's identifier and access information from a terminal that is connected to a central database.

In 2002, McKesson sued Bridge for infringing the '716 patent, and Bridge alleged the patent should be deemed unenforceable because of the way McKesson's attorney prosecuted it and two related co-pending patents, Nos. 4,850,009 and 4,835,372.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California decided the McKesson attorney's activities constituted inequitable conduct based on three actions: he didn't disclose to the '716 examiner a piece of prior art that was found...

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