By Scott A. McKeown
| September 2, 2014

Fall 2014 Preview

With the summer vacation months behind us, the USPTO approaches the close of their fiscal year on September 30th. The end of the fiscal year is always a busy time for the agency. Both examiners and administrative patent law judges (APJs) will be focusing on finalizing their production quotas for the year. Historically, workflow from the agency peaks in September.

This month, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) will accept its 2000th post-grant trial petition. As I pointed out previously, this two year volume of filings has already exceeded the previous 13 year history of inter partes reexamination. September and October filings are expected to reach 200 petitions per month.

aia statistics 082814

With increased hirings, the AIA trial section will become the largest section of the PTAB in October.

In addition to dealing with the rising workflow, this fall the PTAB will also
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By Scott A. McKeown
| August 18, 2014
PTAB

AIA Trials Drive PTAB Growth to 235+ Judges

The Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) held its quarterly meeting last week at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria Virginia. Updates from the USPTO included a report from the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) on appeal and AIA trial proceedings. Much of the report was directed to the subject of the recent Federal Register Notice seeking comment on AIA trial proceedings, however, there were some updates of note.

The PTAB reports that come October the AIA Trial Section will be the largest section of the Board. To put this growth in perspective, the Board was comprised of 70 judges, total, in 2011. The AIA Trial Section is already at 85 judges, and growing. (Other sections of the Board include patent interferences, patent reexamination appeals, ex parte application appeals, and management). The Board is expecting to reach 235+ total judges by October. The boost of judges to the trial section is necessary to decide the growing influx of AIA challenges within the 12-month statutory mandate.

Of course, it wont be long before ex parte appellants, especially small/independent inventors, use this growth on the post-grant side as a rallying cry of unfairness.
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By Scott A. McKeown
| August 14, 2014
PTAB co-petitioner

Lack of Severability Could Doom IPR Petition

When considering Inter Partes Review (IPR) as an alternative to a recently initiated patent litigation, a threshold consideration for defendants is the timing and notice requirements of the IPR statutes: 35 U.S.C. §§ 312(a)(2); 315(B). The former is familiar to most, that is, to be timely filed with the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB), the IPR petition must occur within the 1-year window of 35 U.S.C. §315(b). (within 1 year of the service of a complaint for infringement of the subject patent on the petitioner, real party in interest, or privy of the petitioner).

The latter notice requirement of 312(a)(2) is easily overlooked, and complicated by modern corporate structures. See ZOLL v. Philips, IPR2013-00609, Paper 15 (March 20, 2014) (here)

Given the proliferation of non-practicing entities (NPEs) lodging patent lawsuits against entire industries, it is not uncommon for groups of defendants to contemplate joint IPR filings. The goal is to present a united front to the district court (for motion to stay purposes) by pursuing a singular IPR petition as co-petitioners. When doing so, the complexities of corporate structures, litigation history of privies, indemnification obligations, and common interest agreements are compounded—creating petition vulnerability.

In such situations it may be that one co-petitioner of a given group could doom the petition for all involved.

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By Scott A. McKeown
| August 13, 2014
PTAB

Expired Patents May Follow Shorter Trial Schedule

Some months back, I pointed out how the post-grant challenges of the USPTO's Patent Trial & Apppeal Board (PTAB) now follow a (7) month schedule. Given the 12-month statutory mandate to conclude such post-grant proceedings, the (7) month schedule allows for a (5) month back end for the Board to draft and issue the written decision. This (7) month schedule is down from the more generous (9) month schedlule employed in many 2012-13 filings.

For those challenging/defending expired patents, prepare for an even shorter schedule.
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