Discovery
By Scott A. McKeown
| January 4, 2017
CAFC Grants En Banc Review of IPR Appeal Bar

Bar to Appealing 315(b) Disputes Likely to be Overruled


Back in November, the Federal Circuit issued a non-precedential decision in the Click-To-Call Techs. v. Oracle Corp., which openly questioned the continued viability of Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., 803 F.3d 652 (Fed. Cir. 2015) post-Cuozzo.  As a reminder, Achates held that issues arising under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) (i.e,, IPR one year, time bar) could not be appealed to the CAFC, pursuant to 314(d).  

Today, in Wi-Fi One LLC v. Broadcom (here), the Court granted en banc review of the IPR appeal bar.

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By Scott A. McKeown
| May 11, 2016
PTAB Designates Five Precedential Decisions

PTAB Moves to Establish More Precedential Decisions

Yesterday, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) announced the designation of five, additional precedential decisions.

Garmin Int’l v. Cuozzo Speed Techs LLC, IPR2012-00001, Paper 26 (Mar. 5, 2013) - This order discusses the factors considered in evaluating motions for additional discovery in IPR proceedings. Previously designated as informative, this decision has been treated as de facto precedent for quite some time.

Bloomberg, Inc. v. Markets-Alert Pty, Ltd., CBM2013-00005, Paper 32 (May 29, 2013) – This order discusses the factors considered in evaluating motions for additional discovery in CBM proceedings. (Garmin for CBMs)

Oracle Corp. v. Click-to-Call Techs, LP, IPR2013-00312, Paper 26 (October 30, 2013) (precedential only as to Section III.A.) - This decision pertains to interpretation of “served with a complaint” for purposes of triggering the one-year time bar set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 315(b).  More specifically, this decision stands for the proposition that a dismissal of a prior law suit "without prejudice" prevents that suit from triggering the time bar of 315(b).  This has also been de facto precedent at the PTAB.
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By Scott A. McKeown
| July 7, 2015
Is RPI/Privity an Issue of PTAB Standing?

CAFC Finds Board Has Power to Vacate Institution Decision Sua Sponte


The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) posed the following question to the public last summer in its Request for Comments:
Real Party in Interest:
5. Should a patent owner be able to raise a challenge regarding a real party in interest at any time during a trial?

Since last summer there have been a handful of IPR proceedings vacated on RPI grounds, post-institution. At the same time, the Board expresses a strong preference that motions for additional discovery on RPI be pursued as early as possible. So, while the Board has shown a willingness to vacate post-institution for improper RPI/privity designations, evidence for advancing such a deficiency (i.e., that the petitioner has failed to name a RPI/privy in its petition) is unlikely to come through PTAB discovery—for now.

This month the Board is expected to release a new rule package responsive to the feedback from last summer's Request for Comments. The Rules are expected to provide some enhanced ability to secure additional discovery, especially as it relates to RPI.  Given the expectation of more liberal discovery on RPI in the month's ahead, is RPI a matter of standing that might be raised at any time, even on appeal to the CAFC?

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By Scott A. McKeown
| January 6, 2015
PTAB Rule Changes for 2015

Changes to PTAB Rules Expected Shortly

Back in June of 2014 the USPTO issued a Request for Information in the Federal Register entitled, Request for Comments on Trial Proceedings Under the America Invents Act Before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board. The notice posed 17 questions to the public. Since that time, the Office has considered the public feedback and has been working on two sets of changes to PTAB current trial practices.
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By Scott A. McKeown
| December 8, 2014
December Post-Grant Patent CLE

2014 CLE Year Comes to a Close

The PatentsPostGrant.com free monthly webinar series has concluded for 2014, but will resume in January 2015. Yet, there remains at least one option for those a few credits short of their 2014 continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. Next Monday, I will host the Strafford Legal webinar entitled: Evolving PTAB Trial Practices: Navigating Complex Procedural Rules -- Strategically Using Routine and Additional Discovery, Requests for Joinder, and Motions to Amend. (register here)

For those looking forward to January 2015, the National CLE Conference (CLE & SKI) will be held in Vail Colorado January 8-11th (register here). This program, now in its 32nd year, will cover a full spectrum of hot topics in IP law. The program features a dialogue between the bench and the bar that will include Judge Reyna of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. (CAFC)


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By Scott A. McKeown
| September 18, 2013
Discovery in IPR Proceedings, Much Ado About Nothing

Expectations of Significant PTAB Discovery Practices Prove Misguided


When discussing Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings at CLE events, I am always fascinated by the degree of interest in PTAB discovery procedures. Parties to an Inter Parties Review (IPR) proceeding may obtain what is termed “limited discovery” at the PTAB. Such discovery is limited as it must fall in an accepted class of discovery, namely, “routine discovery” or “additional discovery.” See Rule § 42.51. Routine discovery is easy to understand, it is simply (1) any exhibit not otherwise publicly available or served, (2) cross examination of a declarant, and (3) non-cumulative information that is inconsistent with a position taken by the party before the PTAB. In the typical case, category (2) is the only routine discovery.



“Additional discovery” defines everything outside of the above noted categories. It is the promise of "additional discovery" that seems to enthrall the masses. To seek such additional discovery in an IPR an “interest of justice” showing is required. Since patent challengers in IPR rely on patent and printed publications filed with their IPR petition, there is rarely, if ever, a need for additional discovery that will satisfy the requisite showing. 

Nevertheless, I am routinely asked about "discovery plans" in IPR. In most cases the plan is simple — don't plan on getting any.

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By Scott A. McKeown
| September 17, 2013
Top 5 Mistakes in IPR Petition Drafting

Avoid These Litigation Inspired Drafting Errors


One of the biggest misconceptions about the new patentability challenges of the America Invents Act (AIA) is the notion that these administrative  trial proceedings are somehow analogous to district court litigation — nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, the new AIA proceedings simply skip over the previous patent reexamination examiner phase and go straight to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) phase, with a very limited opportunity for expert depositions along the way.


While it is certainly true that Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post Grant Review (PGR) and the Covered Business Method (CBM) proceedings are "trials," these PTAB trials are governed by their own unique procedures, and are almost exclusively conducted on paper. As is made clear from the 12 months of proceedings to date, discovery practice is quite limited for these trials since they are based on documentary evidence only (i.e., patents and printed publications).


Looking at the top 5 IPR petition drafting mistakes, it is not surprising that most stem from the failure to recognize the key differences between PTAB and district court proceedings.



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By Scott A. McKeown
| May 1, 2013
Limited PTAB Discovery Frustrates District Court Litigators

District Court Discovery Plans Fall Flat


Parties to an Inter Parties Review (IPR) proceeding may obtain "limited discovery" at the USPTO's Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). Such discovery is limited as it must fall in an accepted class of discovery, namely, “routine discovery” or “additional discovery.”See Rule § 42.51. Routine discovery is generally categorized as: (1) any exhibit not otherwise publicly available or served, (2) cross examination of a declarant, and (3) non-cumulative information that is inconsistent with a position taken by the party before the PTAB.

"Additional discovery" defines everything outside of the above noted categories. To seek such additional discovery in an IPR an "interest of justice" showing is required. Since patent challengers in IPR rely on patent and printed publications filed with their IPR petition, they need only routine discovery (i.e., the ability to cross examine the patentees' declarant).

Patentees on the other hand have been seeking additional discovery at  the PTAB on a variety of topics, typically issues of standing and secondary indicia. However, the interest of justice showing is proving quite difficult to meet for patentees. In fact, to date, there has not been any additional discovery authorized at the PTAB. For plaintiff attorneys more accustomed to the liberal relevance standard of F.R.E. Rule 401, the PTAB's high hurdle for additional discovery is a sobering reality check.


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By Scott A. McKeown
| March 20, 2013
Do the Federal Rules of Evidence Apply to Patent Trial & Appeal Board Petitions?

Raising of Evidentiary Informalities Prior to Trial Institution


During PTAB patentability proceedings, the Federal Rules of Evidence are applied. And, while the USPTO's definition of a "proceeding' includes the preliminary proceeding (i.e., petition filing, preliminary response) it is important to keep in mind that the the trial Order is not the final word of the PTAB on patentability; it is simply a preliminary gauge of the merits prior to trial. The "trial" itself does not actually begin until after institution. As such motions by the Patentee that are directed to perceived evidentiary defects of the petition are deemed premature prior to trial institution.

This issue is often raised in the context of printed publications accompanying a petition to the PTAB for a patentability trial. While patents are considered self authenticating by the USPTO, publications can be considered inadmissable if not authenticated (and perhaps hearsay as to undated submssions) by the petitioner. But, the PTAB has set the time to challenge such evidence post-institution via a motion to exclude.


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By Scott A. McKeown
| March 11, 2013
PTAB Denies District Court Style Discovery Antics

PTAB's Limited Discovery Practices Emphasized in IPR


Parties to an Inter Parties Review (IPR) proceeding may obtain "limited discovery" at the USPTO's Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). Such discovery is limited as it must fall in an accepted class of discovery, namely, “routine discovery” or “additional discovery.”See Rule § 42.51. Routine discovery is generally categorized as: (1) any exhibit not otherwise publicly available or served, (2) cross examination of a declarant, and (3) non-cumulative information that is inconsistent with a position taken by the party before the PTAB.

"Additional discovery" defines everything outside of the above noted categories. To seek such additional discovery in an IPR an "interest of justice" need must be demonstrated...quite difficult in all but the most exceptional of circumstances.

As IPRs are patentability trials based on publicly available patents and printed publications, categories (2) and (3) of routine discovery provide the only significant opportunity for discovery. Of course, category (2) is straight forward enough—if there is a declarant submitting testimony— that declarant can be deposed. This leaves category (3) which, as I predicted last April, will be cited by patent owners seeking to embark on district court style fishing expeditions in the name of purported "secondary considerations of non-obviousness." As made clear last week in the very first IPR filing, IPR2012-00001 (Garmin International Inc, et al v. Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC) the PTAB is having none of it. (here)


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