Law360: Athena Diagnostic Test Patent Axed For Covering Natural Law

“Athena Diagnostic Test Patent Axed For Covering Natural Law” was originally published by Law360 on August 8, 2017. To read the full article, please click here.

A Massachusetts federal judge has found an Athena Diagnostics patent on a test for diagnosing an autoimmune disease invalid for claiming only a patent-ineligible law of nature, handing a win to theMayo Clinic, which was accused of infringement.

Judge Indira Talwani held in the Friday decision that Athena Diagnostics Inc.'s claimed method of testing for myasthenia gravis, a chronic disorder that causes waning muscle strength throughout the day, cannot be patented because it is directed to the natural law that people with the disease have certain antibodies in their bodily fluids.

“Because the patent focuses on this natural occurrence, it is directed to a patent-ineligible concept,” the judge wrote.

She granted the Mayo Clinic's motion to dismiss the suit, noting that Athena's patent is similar to one theU.S. Supreme Courtfound in 2012to be patent-ineligible in another case where the famed hospital was accused of infringement.

That case largely established the current patent-eligibility standards that natural laws are not patent-eligible, and has been used to invalidate many other life sciences patents. The justices held that twoPrometheus Laboratories Inc. patents on measuring how well a patient metabolizes certain drugs covered an "entirely natural process" that cannot be patented.

Judge Talwani held that Athena’s claimed method seeks to measure “an interaction which is a similarly natural process."