Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its decision in the highly anticipated patent case, Bilski v. Kappos. Contrary to some expectations, the Court decided Bilski on narrow grounds, leaving the state of biotechnology patents largely untouched. Here is part of what we wrote yesterday:
Although the Court’s narrow ruling left a direct treatment of the difficult issues surrounding biotechnology patents for another day, those issues continue to loom large. As of this writing, a petition for certiorari in the Prometheus case is currently pending before the Supreme Court. In Prometheus, the Federal Circuit court applied the MoT test in a biotechnology context, upholding a patent on a method for improving administration of a drug. If the court grants review of the Prometheus decision, the biotechnology world will have another Supreme Court nail-biter on its hands, beginning with the oral argument next fall. Even if the Court denies certiorari in Prometheus, a number of alternate channels for biotechnology patent reform remain open, including the ongoing Myriad gene patent litigation (which itself might eventually reach the Supreme Court), the SACGHS gene patent recommendations and even private, industry-driven discussions (of which rumors abound).
The Court wasted no time resolving the will-they-or-won’t-they Prometheus question. In an order issued today (pdf) the Supreme Court granted certiorari and then immediately vacated the decision and remanded the case to the Federal Circuit for consideration in light of Bilski. With Bilski in the rearview, and Prometheus back to the Federal Circuit, speculation will now shift to the question of what, if anything, the Federal Circuit will do differently with Prometheus the second time around. Let the waiting begin anew.