Average JOE SCOTUS: Minerva Surgical Inc. v. Hologic Inc.

Ever heard of something called “Patent Assignor Estoppel (PAE)”? Well, neither have I. But that’s what this case is about. It goes like this.

Dr. Csaba Truckai invented procedures and devices called NovaSure to help women with abnormal bleeding during menstruation. He filed for a patent, so that means he argued at that time, that what he did was a valid patent claim. He owned a company called NovaCept when he filed for the patent, thus why it’s NovaSure.

Since then, he sold off NovaCept, presumably because he blew all his money on hookers and blow, and eventually founded Minerva Surgical. NovaCept is now owned by Hologic Inc.

Dr. Truckai, while at Minerva, basically came up with the same basic shit he had when he was at NovaCept, and so new owners Hologic were like, “Hey, we fucking own this patent. You can’t be doing that shit, pal. We paid good money for this.”

This is where it gets fun. According to long held SCOTUS precedent, “patent assignor estoppel” basically says, if you filed a patent years ago, you fucking argued in your heart of hearts, that it was a justifiable example of something deserving of a patent, and you were awarded one. So you can’t come back years later, when you no longer own the fucking patent, and act like it’s bullshit, since you were the same motherfucker who argued it was legit years ago.

But, Dr. Truckai, apparently incapable of any more original thoughts, really wants to do this procedure he invented years ago, so he’s trying to say the whole concept of Patent Assignor Estoppel is bullshit, because the patent act says, invalidity “shall be” a “defense in any action involving the validity or infringement of a patent.” As such, he thinks that means, the whole PAE thing is wrong, and he should be free to challenge that shit if he wants.

As you may recall, we also discussed “Stare decisis” (pronounced star-ay), which is also a SCOTUS top ten hit. It means,  “to stand by things decided.” This means that in order to maintain consistency in the law, SCOTUS tends to not do something one way, then do it different another day. So once they set a precedent, they stick to it, unless they REALLY think it’s wrong.

So that basically means Dr. Truckai is unlikely to win this shit.

Minerva also claims that back in 1969, case Lear, Inc. v. Adkins ended a similar precedent, patent licensee estoppel, which basically prevented a licensee to challenge a validity of something it licensed.

Third, they contend that Hologic broadened the scope of the patent, and therefore, he’s challenging that broader scope, not the original patent he filed.

Basically, he’s throwing the whole book at them, and hoping one of them sticks, because again, apparently, he’s a one hit wonder and he knows it.

In a surprisingly 5:4 decision, SCOTUS sided with Minerva Surgical. They argued that claims can be barred to estoppel, but don’t have to be. Basically, if this dipshit argues a wholly new reason for invalidating his own patent, that he couldn’t have or wouldn’t have known when he argued for the patent, he is OK to make that argument.

The dissenters basically were like, “You fence riding motherfuckers are rewriting this decision without invalidating the other precedents from before. Well done, you fucking cowards. If you want to invalidate the precedent, just fucking do it. Don’t dance around it like this.”

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.


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