890 F.3d 1282 (Fed. Cir. 2018), 2016-2054, XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C.

Docket Nº:2016-2054, 2016-2136
Citation:890 F.3d 1282
Opinion Judge:Chen, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:XY, LLC, Plaintiff-Cross-Appellant v. TRANS OVA GENETICS, L.C., Defendant-Appellant
Attorney:Pratik A. Shah, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, Washington, DC, argued for plaintiff-cross-appellant. Also represented by Ze-Wen Julius Chen; Daniel Lynn Moffett, Kirt S. O’Neill, San Antonio, TX. Charles Daniel Ossola, Hunton & Williams LLP, Washington, DC, argued for defendant-appellant...
Judge Panel:Before Newman, Dyk and Chen, Circuit Judges. Newman, Circuit Judge, concurring-in-part, dissenting-in-part.
Case Date:May 23, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Page 1282

890 F.3d 1282 (Fed. Cir. 2018)

XY, LLC, Plaintiff-Cross-Appellant


TRANS OVA GENETICS, L.C., Defendant-Appellant

Nos. 2016-2054, 2016-2136

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

May 23, 2018

Page 1283

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1284

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1285

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado in No. 1:13-cv-00876-WJM-NYW, Judge William J. Martinez.

Pratik A. Shah, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, Washington, DC, argued for plaintiff-cross-appellant. Also represented by Ze-Wen Julius Chen; Daniel Lynn Moffett, Kirt S. O’Neill, San Antonio, TX.

Charles Daniel Ossola, Hunton & Williams LLP, Washington, DC, argued for defendant-appellant. Also represented by David A. Kelly, Atlanta, GA; Donald Earl Lake, III, George Guy Matava, Samantha Kay Picans, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, Denver, CO.

Before Newman, Dyk and Chen, Circuit Judges.


Chen, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-Cross-Appellant XY, LLC (XY) sued Defendant-Appellant Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. (Trans Ova) for patent infringement and breach of contract. Trans Ova counterclaimed, alleging patent invalidity, breach of contract, and antitrust violations. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of XY on Trans Ova’s antitrust counterclaims. A jury found breaches of contract by both parties and awarded damages. The jury also found

Page 1286

that (i) Trans Ova failed to prove that the asserted patent claims were invalid, (ii) Trans Ova willfully infringed the asserted claims, and (iii) XY was entitled to damages for patent infringement. The parties filed various post-trial motions. The district court denied all of Trans Ova’s requested relief on the antitrust, breach of contract, invalidity, and willfulness issues and granted XY’s request for an ongoing royalty. Trans Ova appeals the district court’s antitrust, breach of contract, invalidity, and willfulness rulings. XY appeals the ongoing royalty rate adopted by the district court.

We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand. Two issues presented on appeal are moot. With respect to the remaining issues, we affirm on all issues except the district court’s ongoing royalty rate, which we vacate. We remand for the district court to recalculate an ongoing royalty rate in accordance with this opinion.


I. Technological Background

XY’s patents relate to the sorting of X- and Y-chromosome-bearing sperm cells, which can be used for selective breeding purposes. Some of the asserted patent claims require the use of "flow cytometry," a process by which cells flow through a flow cytometer at a high rate of speed in a fluid stream and "are evaluated at several thousands of [cells] per second." J.A. 8346-47.

Dr. Lawrence Johnson developed a technique for sorting animal semen using flow cytometry in the 1980s as part of research sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Dr. Johnson’s technique is patented in U.S. Patent No. 5,135,759 (the Johnson Patent ), which issued in 1992. The Johnson Patent was initially licensed to XY under a USDA partnership pro-gram. The Johnson method involves staining DNA in sperm cells with a dye; using a laser beam to activate the fluorescence of the dye (with X-chromosome cells being brighter because they contain more DNA than Y-chromosome cells); detecting the amount of fluorescence in the cells; and sorting the cells into separate containers for X and Y cells.

Six of XY’s patents are at issue in this appeal. They can be grouped into four categories: (1) the "Fluid Patents" (U.S. Patent Nos. 6,149,867 and 6,524,860); (2) the "Freezing Patent" (U.S. Patent No. 7,820,425); (3) the "In-Vitro Fertilization Patent" (U.S. Patent No. 8,569,053); and (4) the "Reverse Sort Patents"1 (U.S. Patent Nos. 7,713,687 and 7,771,921).

The Fluid Patents claim flow cytometry devices and methods that use "sheath fluids" to provide optimum pre-and post-sorting fluid environments for the cells to "achieve as unaffected a sorted result as possible." ’867 patent, J.A. 13485 col. 4 ll. 40-55, J.A. 13493 col. 20 ll. 1-4; ’860 patent, J.A. 13516 col. 18 ll. 47-50, J.A. 13509 col. 4 ll. 27-43. The claimed fluids are introduced in a "coordinated" fashion such that the cells’ fluid environment changes at various stages of the sorting process to minimize stress on the cells and keep as many of the cells alive as possible. See, e.g., ’867 patent, J.A. 13490 col. 13 ll. 1-65, J.A. 13493 col. 20 l. 1.

The Freezing Patent claims methods for "cryopreserving sperm that have been selected for a specific characteristic." J.A. 13300 col. 2 ll. 9-10, 16-17; J.A. 13315 col. 31 l. 64— col. 32 l. 11. The claimed methods purport to "facilitat[e] storage and/or shipment

Page 1287

of selected sperm samples to sites distant from the collection site." J.A. 13300 col. 2 ll. 44-46. According to the patent, thawing the samples "yields viable sperm that can be used in procedures such as artificial insemination ... and in vitro fertilization." Id . col. 2 ll. 46-48.

The Reverse Sort Patents claim methods of first freezing, then thawing, and finally sorting sperm cells. See, e.g., ’687 patent, J.A. 13434 col. 30 ll. 9-42. The parties agree that a principal difference between the claimed methods in the Reverse Sort Patents and prior art methods is the use of a relatively high concentration of dye for staining the sperm cells in the Reverse Sort Patents— greater than 40 micromolar. See, e.g., id. col. 30 ll. 15-17.

The In-Vitro Fertilization Patent claims methods of in-vitro fertilization using sorted and reverse sorted sperm. See generally J.A. 14930-31 col. 10 l. 14— col. 12 l. 26.

II. Factual Background

Trans Ova provides services related to embryo transfer and in-vitro fertilization for cattle. Before the events giving rise to this lawsuit, Trans Ova purchased sorted semen from Inguran, LLC (Inguran), which was a licensee of XY’s patents. Trans Ova became dissatisfied with the quality of Inguran’s product, however, and sought to license XY’s technology to produce its own sorted semen.

XY and Trans Ova entered into a five-year licensing agreement (the Agreement ) in April 2004 under which Trans Ova was authorized to use XY’s technology in animal breeding. The Agreement was subject to automatic renewal in April 2009, unless, inter alia, Trans Ova was in material breach of the Agreement. XY retained the right to terminate the Agreement in the event of certain breaches by Trans Ova, upon written notice to Trans Ova.

In November 2007, Inguran acquired XY and, in the same month, XY sent a letter purporting to terminate the Agreement (Termination Letter) because of alleged breaches by Trans Ova. Trans Ova disagreed with XY’s allegations of breach and argued that the Agreement had not been terminated. Over the course of several years, the parties negotiated but failed to resolve their disputes. Trans Ova continued to make royalty payments to XY pursuant to the Agreement, in accordance with its position that the Agreement had not been terminated, but XY declined all payments except one (which XY alleges it accepted in error). During the period of negotiations, XY alleges that it became aware of further breaches by Trans Ova (in addition to those alleged in the Termination Letter), including underpayment of royalties and development of improvements to XY’s technology without disclosure of such improvements to XY.

III. Procedural History

In March 2012, XY sued Trans Ova for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. Trans Ova moved to dismiss or transfer for improper venue. On March 28, 2013, the district judge granted Trans Ova’s motion and transferred the case to the District of Colorado. XY filed an amended complaint, adding claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Trans Ova, in turn, asserted (1) patent invalidity, (2) monopolization and attempted monopolization under the Sherman Act, and (3) breach of contract by XY and Inguran.2

Page 1288

A. Summary Judgment

XY moved for summary judgment that Trans Ovas antitrust claims were barred by the applicable four-year statute of limitations. Trans Ova argued in response that the "continuing conspiracy" exception, per Tenth Circuit case law, effectively restarted the limitations period with each "new and independent act" that inflicted "new and accumulating injury" on Trans Ova after XY sent the Termination Letter. J.A. 41 (quoting Champagne Metals v. Ken-Mac Metals, Inc., 458 F.3d 1073, 1088 (10th Cir. 2006) ). The district court determined that Trans Ova had not identified any new injury resulting from XYs post-termination actions in its brief in opposition to XYs motion. Therefore...

To continue reading