Athena Diagnostic Patent Invalid Under § 101

Written February 8, 2019

The Federal Circuit on February 6, 2019, affirmed a district court decision against Athena Diagnostics, holding their patent covering methods for diagnosing neurological disorders invalid because it was directed to a natural law and lacked an inventive step. Athena Diagnostics Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, Fed. Cir., No. 2017-2508, 2/6/19.

The patent, which was directed to a method of diagnosing neurological disorders through the detection of certain antibodies, was licensed to Athena before Athena sued Mayo for infringement. However, the district court found that the patent was merely directed to a natural law, and the Federal Circuit agreed, dismissing Athena’s argument that the patent claims involved an innovative laboratory technique.

The patent is “directed to a natural law because the claimed advance was only in the discovery of a natural law,” Circuit Judge Alan Lourie wrote, “the additional recited steps only apply conventional techniques to detect that natural law.”