Now that over one hundred inter partes reviews (IPRs) and covered business method proceedings (CBMs) have been filed, the parties to those proceedings are actively considering their rights and duties with respect to the limited discovery available at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). PTAB Trial Practice and Procedure Rule 51 provides for two options for “mandatory initial disclosures.” The options are akin to initial disclosures provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
As a reminder, the major bar associations lobbied for the USPTO to include the option in the final rules.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, parties are not agreeing to voluntarily participate in discovery for trials that are yet to be instituted. Likewise, as discovery is “limited” if and when a trial begins, there is little motivation to volunteer information that an adversary may not be entitled to in the first instance. To date, the mandatory initial disclosure option has been largely ignored in IPR filings, but may be worth a closer look for those involved in a CBM.
Rule 51(a) provides the option, and generally tracks Rule 26(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Read the rest of this entry »