January 26, 2015 / 2:50 PM / 5 years ago

Supreme Court sends patent cases back to appeals court

The phrase "Equal Justice Under Law" adorns the west entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington December 3, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday sent three patent cases, including one dispute over Shire Plc’sLialda drug, back to a lower court for further proceedings in light of a ruling the justices issued last week.

All three cases will now be reconsidered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

In last week’s ruling concerning a dispute over Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s Copaxone, its top-selling multiple sclerosis drug, the high court said the appeals court had used the wrong legal analysis.

When considering the scope of patent claims construction, the appeals court must defer to a federal district judge unless there is evidence of “clear error,” the court found.

In the Shire case, the appeals court had in a March 2014 ruling thrown out a lower court decision in the company’s favor over Lialda, a drug that treats inflammatory bowel conditions. The district court had found that a competing product manufactured by Actavis Plc’s Watson unit had infringed on Shire’s patent.

The case is Shire Development LLC v. Watson Pharmaceuticals, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-206.

The other two cases on which the high court acted were Gevo Inc v. Butamax Advanced Fuels LLC and Lighting Ballast Control LLC v. Universal Lighting Technologies Inc, U.S. Supreme Court, Nos 13-1286 and 13-1536.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

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