In a decision that continues patent protection for Goodwin client Teva Pharmaceuticals' multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone®, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded a Federal Circuit decision invalidating one of Teva’s patents, ruling that the appeals court had not given proper deference to findings of fact by the District Court during claim construction. Partner Willy Jay, co-chair of Goodwin’s Appellate Litigation Practice, successfully argued the case for Teva before the Supreme Court.
In issuing its ruling in Teva v. Sandoz, issued on January 20, the Supreme Court considered to what extent the appeals court has leeway to second-guess findings of fact related to patent claim construction by district court judges. Goodwin argued that the appeals court should have deferred to the district court judge, who had ruled in Teva’s favor but whose ruling was overturned by the Federal Circuit.
In its 7-2 opinion authored by Justice Breyer, the Court overturned 20 years of practice and said that with regard to findings of fact related to patent claim construction, the appeals court must defer to the federal district judge and cannot overturn a finding unless there is evidence of “clear error.” The Supreme Court further found that, on at least one critical finding of fact, the Federal Circuit had failed to provide the necessary deference to the District Court finding.
Goodwin represented Teva in the matter from the outset, winning the district court trial, defending the appeal before the Federal Circuit and bringing the case to successful conclusion for Teva in the U.S. Supreme Court.