Last September 16th marked the one year anniversary of the enactment of the America Invents Act (AIA). This “patent reform” legislation introduced several new post grant avenues to challenge an issued patent at the USPTO. One of these new options is the very specialized, Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents, or “CBM” proceeding.
The CBM option is noteworthy in several respects: first, it is a post grant review challenge that is limited to a special class of patents (i.e., “covered business method” patents); second, only those challengers that have been sued or charged with infringement of a covered patent may petition the USPTO to initiate a CBM proceeding; third, the estoppel is limited to those grounds actually raised in the proceeding (that is, there is no “reasonably could have raised” estoppel); and finally, the CBM statutes include unique controls that virtually ensure that any ongoing litigation at the time of a CBM filing will be stayed pending USPTO review.
As explained above, the CBM proceeding presents an insignificant of estoppel risk. This “free shot” combined with the near certain stay of costly court proceedings presents a “pay to stay” opportunity that qualifying defendants may find hard to resist.