Sunday, May 31, 2020

Take Off, Bob And Doug!

Like millions of people around the world, I watched the successful launch of Dragon Endeavour on May 30, 2020. Today, May 31, 2020, I was thrilled to see Dragon Endeavour safely dock to International Space Station ("ISS"), and astronauts Bob (Behnken) and Doug (Hurley) - neither of whom called the other a "hoser" even once during their spaceflight - float into ISS to join colleagues Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner. Wonderful!  It's a beauty way to go.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Diamond In The Rough

Professor Jared Diamond (University of California Los Angeles) is a rare example of an academic whose expertise spans disparate fields of inquiry.  In his career, he has made important contributions in physiology, ecology, and geography.  Outside academia, Diamond has also been a influential writer of best-selling books intended for general audiences.  His most recent book was prescient, being published in 2019, just before the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic and worldwide economic collapse:  Upheaval - Turning Points for Nations in Crisis.  Also well worth reading is his commentary,  Jared Diamond: lessons from a pandemic - The coronavirus crisis should usher in an age of global co-operation, argues the Pulitzer Prize-winning geographer, published in the Financial Times on May 27, 2020.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

First Impressions Of The Last Dance

I just finished watching The Last Dance.  The biggest thing I learned is that, focused as I was on graduate school, I largely missed what happened in the 1990s NBA.  So, although the documentary revisits the Chicago Bulls' famous twin three-peats, I realized I was watching them for the first time.  Despite the involvement of Michael Jordan's company, Jump 23, in the production of the The Last Dance, the reality of the basketball footage alone convinced me that Jordan was every bit the superlative player of his legend.

Yes, I already knew he was good, but watching him bend the outcomes of games and series to his will, against a succession of superb teams and players, was a revelation.  Six NBA championships brought tremendous joy to Chicago Bulls players, staffs, and fans.  Yet, the documentary depicted enough conflict, hectoring, and cruelty to temper these accomplishments with a unavoidable sense of tristesse.

The Last Dance is excellent.  Nevertheless, it is valuable that the future is sure to add additional perspectives on a fabulous chapter in basketball history.

Friday, May 22, 2020


The United States Food and Drug Adminstration ("FDA") has listed almost 30 SARS-CoV-2 antibody-detection products as unapproved for sale.  This reflects the challenges of developing, and obtaining licensure for, such diagnostic tests.  The crowd of products ordered off the market also illustrates how great the market opportunity for such tests is perceived to be.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hope Takes Flight

Warranted or not, this week saw fragile hopes rise of a vaccine effective against SARS-CoV-2.  This reminded of Emily Dickinson's lovely enigmatic poem Hope:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
​Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Friday, May 15, 2020

Tough Luck

The United States Supreme Court ("Supremes") unanimously decided LUCKY BRAND DUNGAREES, INC., ET AL. v. MARCEL FASHIONS GROUP, INC. on May 14, 2020.  Although the underlying dispute concerned a clash of  clothing trademarks including "Get Lucky" and "Lucky Brand", a central issue in the case concerned a legal theory called "defense preclusion".  Here the Supremes rejected defense preclusion.

Writing for the court, Justice Sotomayor provides this short summary of the posture of the case:
This case arises from protracted litigation between petitioners Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc., and others (collectively Lucky Brand) and respondent Marcel Fashions Group, Inc. (Marcel). In the latest lawsuit between the two, Lucky Brand asserted a defense against Marcel that it had not pressed fully in a preceding suit between the parties.  This Court is asked to determine whether Lucky Brand’s failure to litigate the defense in the earlier suit barred Lucky Brand from invoking it in the later suit. Because the parties agree that, at a minimum, the preclusion of such a defense in this context requires that the two suits share the same claim to relief—and because we find that the two suits here did not— Lucky Brand was not barred from raising its defense in the later action. 
She concludes as follows:
At bottom, Marcel’s 2011 Action challenged different conduct—and raised different claims—from the 2005 Action.  Under those circumstances, Marcel cannot preclude Lucky Brand from raising new defenses. The judgment of the Second Circuit is therefore reversed, and the case is remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion. 
Regardless of which company got lucky in this round, endless expensive litigation over a trademark covering a common English word seems anything but lucky for either firm.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Rational Optimist On Covid-19

Here is a Spectator interview with the incomparable Dr. Matt Ridley on understanding and taming SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19:

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dedication-Disclosure Slayback

On May 8, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ("CAFC") decided Eagle Pharmaceuticals v. Slayback Pharma.  Slayback - a moniker that clearly represents a missed naming opportunity in the field of heavy metal bands - evokes exactly what happened to Eagle Pharmaceuticals, whose four asserted patents the CAFC found not to have been infringed on the pleadings.  Representative claim 1 of its United States Patent No. 9,572,796 ("'796 patent") recites, among other elements, "a pharmaceutically acceptable fluid comprising a mixture of polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol".

Eagle Pharmaceuticals invoked the doctrine of equivalents "assert[ing] that the ethanol in Slayback [Pharma]’s product is insubstantially different from the propylene glycol ("PG") in the claimed composition."  In response, Slayback Pharma "argued that the disclosure-dedication doctrine barred Eagle [Pharma]’s claim of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents because the asserted patents disclose, but do not claim, ethanol as an alternative solvent to PG. The '796 patent also disclosed "ethanol"".

The CAFC affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, finding as follows:
Here, we conclude that the only reasonable inference that can be made from the patent disclosures is that a skilled artisan would understand the patents to disclose ethanol as an alternative to the claimed PG.  Nothing in the record permits us to infer that a skilled artisan “would have understood that the patent specification describes distinct categories of formulations that contain different ingredients and work in different ways.” Appellant Br. 44.  As a result, even when viewing the pleadings in the light most favorable to Eagle, we conclude there is no material issue of fact to resolve and Slayback is entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law.
Both the district and appeals courts decided Eagle Pharma's arguments flew in the face of the dedication-disclosure doctrine.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Patent League Table

Here is an animation published by the World Intellectual Property Organization illustrating which countries filed the most PCT ("Patent Cooperation Treaty") applications from 2005 to 2019.  Notice the rise of Chinese and Korean PCTs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Virology Now!

The Global Virome Project ("GVP") describes its mission as follows:
Develop an innovative network partnership among public, private, philanthropic and civil organizations to detect the majority of our planet’s unknown viral threats to human health and food security within 10-years to prepare for and stop future epidemics
The GVP elaborates its goals in this video:

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


Here is a valuable advance in SARS-CoV-2 detection from the Broad Institute:

Friday, May 1, 2020


In an exceptional May Day decision, the United States Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") issued an Emergency Use Authorization ("EUA") "for emergency use of remdesivir for the treatment of
hospitalized 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients".  The EUA describes remdesivir as
a direct acting antiviral drug that inhibits viral RNA synthesis.  It is an investigational drug and is not currently approved for any indication.  Remdesivir has activity in cell culture and animal models against SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2. 
It then outlines the scientific evidence undergirding its decision:
Based on review of the topline data from the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial conducted by NIAID (NCT04280705) and from the Gilead-sponsored open-label trial that evaluated different durations of remdesivir (NCT04292899), it is reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of RDV outweigh the known and potential risks of the drug for the treatment of patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19.
Finally, the EUA explains the statutory basis for authorizing use of remdesivir: 
Having concluded that the criteria for issuance of this authorization under 564(c) of the Act are met, I am authorizing the emergency use of remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19, as described in the Scope of Authorization section of this letter (Section II) and subject to the terms of this authorization.  
There is no guarantee that further data regarding the performance of remdesivir will be similarly positive.  However, the EUA does indicate that the FDA has high hopes for this drug in combating SARS-CoV-2 and the Covid-19 disease it causes.