Ferring v. Barr Labs. (Fed. Cir. 2006).
By Grantland Drutchas
Ferring is a rather interesting CAFC decision on inequitable conduct. The CAFC affirmed summary judgment of inequitable conduct based solely on the applicant's failure to disclose that individuals who submitted declarations in support of the patentability of the claims had affiliations with the assignee of the application.
One of the declarants was an employee of the assignee, one was a paid consultant; but the third was simply a researcher (presumably a clinician) whose employer had assisted with some clinical studies for the assignee and received some funding for those clinical studies from the assignee. The CAFC found the failure to disclose each of these relationships was material.The appellate panel also held that an inference of intent can be found when the patentee fails to show a "credible explanation" for the patentee's deception of the PTO. Importantly, the Court found that the patent holder has the burden to prove the credible explanation. Simply arguing plausible or possible explanations for the deception is not enough to rebut an inference of intent to deceive.
Grant Drutchas, a founding partner of MBHB, has nearly 20 years of experience in the practice of intellectual property law, with a particular emphasis on litigation, licensing, and client counseling.