conception : CAFC Alert

A Federal Circuit Reminder of the Continued Importance of Laboratory Notebooks and Other Corroborative Evidence of Inventorship

Stephen Parker | April 22, 2016

Meng v. Chu

April 5, 2016

Before: Prost, Dyk and Wallach.  Opinion by Prost

Summary

In 1987, a research group at the High Pressure Low Temperature (“HPLT”) lab at the University of Houston lead by Ching-Wu Chu, a professor and the lab’s lead investigator, developed inventions related to superconducting compounds having transition temperatures higher than the boiling point of liquid nitrogen.  The University of Houston filed two applications listing Chu as the sole inventor.  The inventions were assigned to the University of Houston and licensed to Dupont.  The University of Houston and Ching-Wu evenly shared the license proceeds received from Dupont, and Chu gave $274,000 from his share to Pei-Herng Hor, a grad student at the lab, and Ruling Meng, an independent scientist at the lab.  After issuance of patents for the inventions, in 2008 Hor filed a law suit in the District Court for the Southern District of Texas seeking to be added as a co-inventor and in 2010 Meng intervened seeking to also be added as a co-inventor.  The District Court denied both Hor’s and Meng’s claims on the bases that they had failed to meet the “heavy burden” of proving co-inventorship by clear and convincing evidence despite Hor and Meng having received proceeds under the license, having been the first and second listed authors on a publication related to the inventions, and having been commended by Chu in a letter of recommendation for Hor for his discoveries related to the inventions.  The Federal Circuit affirmed.


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Under pre-AIA law, conception of a DNA segment is established by possession and appreciation, not completely accurate sequence knowledge

Bernadette McGann | November 20, 2013

Sanofi-Aventis v Pfizer, Inc.

November 5, 2013

Before Newman (Circuit Judge), Lourie (Circuit Judge) and Davis (District Judge). Opinion by Newman.

Summary:

A patent is awarded to the first party to conceive and reduce to practice the invention.  When the invention is directed towards a DNA segment, conception requires possession and appreciation of the DNA segment that is claimed.  A completely correct sequence of the DNA segment is not the standard for establishing conception and reduction to practice.


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