In 2011 Congress enacted the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) which established a patent agency procedure called “inter partes review” (IPR). The IPR process, a new adjudicative proceeding, allows third parties to challenge weak patents and patent owners to strengthen their patent portfolio. The IPR process is intended to improve the patent system by creating an expedited, less expensive alternative to litigation. IPR also offers a faster path to legal certainty in the biosimilar development cycle which can decrease health costs.
Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC (Cuozzo) was the first company to have its patent invalidated in an IPR review. The Board invalidated Cuozzo's patent on a speedometer that alerts drivers to the speed limit, finding that Garmin International Inc., who challenged Cuozzo’s patent, had shown that Cuozzo’s patent was invalid as obvious. Garmin and Cuozzo later settled, but Cuozzo continued to challenge the IPR claim construction standard in court. In a split ruling, the Federal Circuit upheld the IPR decision, holding that that the US Patent and Trademark Office has used the broadest reasonable interpretation claim construction standard for more than a century, and nothing in the AIA indicated that Congress intended for that to change. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the patent claim construction standard used by the Patent Office is a reasonable exercise of the agency’s rulemaking authority. While the facts of this case concern a patent on a speedometer, the decision reached will determine the standard of review in the IPR process for all patents including drug and biologic patents.
AARP’s brief, filed by AARP Foundation Litigation attorneys, noted that Congress designed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act to overturn patents that should have never been issued in the first place. The brief discusses how improperly issued patents can increase prescription drug costs and argues that the current IPR system is working as intended, and patents that should have never been issued are being invalidated.
What’s at Stake
Low-quality patents have a direct impact on the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, to the detriment of older individuals and the public, generally. Prescription drug medications alone cost many individuals thousands of dollars annually. Drug costs also affect employers, private insurers, and taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Find cases in which AFL has advocated in courts nationwide for the rights of older persons, and filed AARP’s amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs that help courts decide precedent-setting cases. The cases within the drop-down categories below are in alphabetical order for ease of searching.
Strengthening Law and Policy through
Our legal advocacy initiatives - conducted by AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) - reflect nearly 20 years of work in federal and state courts across the country. Through our efforts, we support the Foundation’s four impact areas: Tackling Senior Hunger, Paving the Way to Stable Income, assuring the adequacy and availability of Safe and Afffordable Housing and Reconnecting People to Families and Communities, and ensure that those 50 and older have a voice in the laws and policies that affect their daily lives.