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  • The opinions, commentary and characterizations provided to this online forum by the authors and moderators are provided for encouraging discussion, thought and debate on important post grant issues. These postings are in no way representative of the opinions of Oblon Spivak et al., or its clients.

Archive for the ‘Reexamination’ Category

PTAB Roundtable Webcast Today

Posted On: Apr. 15, 2014   By: Scott A. McKeown
USPTO_LogoWebcast today, 1-4PM EST

As a reminder, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) roundtable series kicks off today in Alexandria.

The Chief Judge will kick off today’s program with some performance information, including entirely new statistical categories of data. Thereafter, judges of the PTAB will conduct mock telephone conferences, and I along with three other practitioners will close out the program discussing strategy, practice tips and concurrent proceeding concerns.

Alexandria, VA Webcast – April 15, 2014

Patent Reissue as an Alternative to PTAB Amendment Practice

patent reissue ptabStringent PTAB Amendment Process to Drive Patent Reissue Filings

As discussed previously, patent owners continue to struggle with the motion-based amendment requirements of the USPTO’s Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). In recent months, patentees subject to Inter Partes Review (IPR) and Covered Business Method (CBM) challenges have begun exploring alternative USPTO avenues for presenting amendments. In particular, patentees are following the advice of the PTAB and initiating patent reissue and reexamination proceedings.

Patentees generally find patent reexamination more attractive than patent reissue. This is due to the special dispatch accorded a patent reexamination, the relatively narrow scope of prior art review, and insulation from 112 and 101 issues. However, as made clear recently, patent reissue may be the only escape for patentees struggling at the PTAB.

Read the rest of this entry »

CAFC Requests USPTO/Gov’t Weigh In On Third Party Standing for Appeals From PTAB

Posted On: Dec. 5, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown
PTAB-standingCAFC Considers Article III Injury Requirement for Dissatisfied Patent Challengers

Earlier this week, the CAFC heard oral arguments in Consumer Watchdog v. Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Warf). Although seemingly a routine appeal from an inter partes patent reexamination, the Court took interest in the unique procedural posture of this case a few weeks before argument on the merits. Here, the challenged claims of the patent were confirmed as patentable by the USPTO and appealed by the challenger, Consumer Watchdog, to the CAFC. The CAFC ordered late briefing on the question of Article III standing for CW’s appeal. CW brief (here), WARF brief (here)

For simple folk like me, the question of standing would seem to have a relatively straight forward response. That is, appeal from a PTAB decision is provided, by statute (old 35 U.S.C. § 315 (b)(1), to any party dissatisfied with a decision of the PTAB. This appeal right was actually added in 2002 as the original inter partes reexamination passed in 1999 had no such right. Section 13106 of Public Law 107-273, 116 Stat. 1758, 1899-1906 (2002). So, not only was standing conveyed by Congress, it was conveyed only after denying it in the first legislative go-round. (fact pattern seems rather persuasive to me)

While the CAFC was well aware of the statute, they seemed to be seeking more of an “injury” from the appellant to convey Article II standing, or some kind of indication in the legislative history that Congress intended to convey Article III standing. Read the rest of this entry »

Texas Court Explains PTAB Roadblock to Patent Litigation

Posted On: Dec. 3, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown

ddc29c0373659346b925c74df98ea66b26792620

Texas Court Stuns Patent Troll Business Model

Texas has become well known, some would say infamous, for their patent friendly federal district courts. Over the years, “patent trolls” have increasingly flocked to Texas District Courts such as the eastern district (Marshall) to leverage these pro-patentee forums.

Since September 16, 2012, new USPTO post grant patent proceedings have been increasingly leveraged as the first true alternative to patent litigation. Here again, Texas courts offered patentees a benefit over many other districts in the U.S. That is, historically, Texas judges have been reluctant to stay litigation pending USPTO reexamination proceedings. To date, most presumed that this historical bias against staying litigation pending USPTO reexamination would continue despite the increase in speed in the new patent challenge proceedings of the America Invents Act (AIA). Yet, as made clear last week, the heightened standard necessary to institute an Inter Partes Review at the USPTO’s Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB), coupled with the recent outcome in Fresenius USA v. Baxter Int’l. (CAFC 2013), has Texas courts rethinking the wisdom of their previous anti-stay stance. Read the rest of this entry »

CAFC Denies En Banc Review in Fresenius II

Posted On: Nov. 5, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown
Fresenius reexaminationCourt Denies Second Request to Revisit Controversial Case

The CAFC first considered the validity of Baxter International’s U.S. Patent 5,247,434 (the ‘434 patent) on appeal from a patent infringement litigation with Fresenius. In that first appeal (now commonly referred to as Fresenius I), the Court found the patent not invalid over certain prior art in 2009. After Fresenius I, the litigation dispute went back to the district court on a damages related remand.

Meanwhile, in May 2012 a patent reexamination that was filed by Fresenius USA Inc. in 2007 made its way to the CAFC. The reexamination was based on much the same prior art as previously considered in Fresenius I. This time, the CAFC affirmed the determination of the BPAI that the claims were obvious over the applied prior art applying the more liberal standards for USPTO challenges. En banc review was then sought, but declined in the Baxter reexamination appeal.

Thereafter, Fresenius II made it’s way to the CAFC to determine whether the outstanding damage award was enforceable in light of the CAFC’s decision in In re Baxter. The CAFC held that as the damage award was not yet final, it was essentially erased by the cancellation of the patent in reexamination, and once again, en banc review was sought last summer. Read the rest of this entry »

USPTO Changes Extension of Time Practice in Patent Reexamination & Supplemental Examination

Posted On: Oct. 30, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown
extension of time patent reexamiantionNo-Cause Extensions Available for Patent Owner/Director Initiated Post Grant Patent Proceedings

Tucked away in last week’s Federal Register Notice is a significant change to patent reexamination/supplemental examination procedures at the USPTO. Currently, any extension of time sought in an ex parte patent reexamination (the only type of patent reexamination still in existence) requires a show of cause for the requested extension. This is not a trivial matter as the USPTO’s Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) can be quite strict in granting such requests. However, on December 18, 2013, this practice will change for some filers. (Federal Register Notice here)

Starting in December extensions of time for up to two months will no longer require a showing of cause in proceedings that were not initiated by a third party. That is, for Director/Patent Owner initiated reexaminations, extensions of time for up to two months will be available as a matter of right. This change would also apply to supplemental examinations, which are patentee requested and are largely conducted under the same reexamination rules. The version of 1.550(c) that takes effect on December 18, 2013 is shown below (applies to all filings in existence on that date).

§ 1.550 Conduct of ex parte reexamination proceedings.

* * * * *

(c) The time for taking any action by a patent owner in an ex parte reexamination proceeding may be extended as provided in this paragraph.

(1) Any request for such an extension must specify the requested period of extension and be accompanied by the petition fee set forth in § 1.17(g).

(2) Any request for an extension in a third party requested ex parte reexamination must be filed on or before the day on which action by the patent owner is due, and the mere filing of such a request for extension will not effect the extension. A request for an extension in a third party requested ex parte reexamination will not be granted in the absence of sufficient cause or formore than a reasonable time.

(3) Any request for an extension in a patent owner requested or Director ordered ex parte reexamination for up to two months from the time period set in the Office action must be filed no later than two months from the expiration of the time period set in the Office action. A request for an extension in a patent owner requested or Director ordered ex parte reexamination for more than two months from the time period set in the Office action must be filed on or before the day on which action by the patent owner is due, and the mere filing of a request for an extension for more than two months from the time period set in the Office action will not effect the extension. The time for taking action in a patent owner requested or Director ordered ex parte reexamination will not be extended for more than two months from the time period set in the Office action in the absence of sufficient cause or for more than a reasonable time.

(4) The reply or other action must in any event be filed prior to the expiration of the period of extension, but in no situation may a reply or other action be filed later than the maximum time period set by statute.

(5) See § 90.3(c) of this title for extensions of time for filing a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or for commencing a civil action.

* * * * *

(e) If a response by the patent owner is not timely filed in the Office, a petition may be filed pursuant to § 1.137 to revive a reexamination prosecution terminated under paragraph (d) of this section if the delay in response was unintentional.

PTAB Speed Changes Court’s Mind on Motion to Stay Calculus

Posted On: Sep. 11, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown
PTAB-post grantCourt Cites Improved Speed of PTAB as Eliminating Potential Prejudice

The primary business distinctions between the USPTO Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings and traditional court based patent invalidity proceedings are the vast improvements in cost, predictability, effectiveness, and speed of PTAB proceedings— but it is the speed and effectiveness that is changing the perspective of the judiciary on staying litigation pending USPTO proceedings.

As most are aware, the old patent reexamination system, at least on the inter partes side, has been replaced by IPR. IPR must be concluded by statute within 12-18 months, a marked improvement over the (roughly speaking) previous 6+year path through the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU), Board of Patent Appeals & Interferences (BPAI) and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). These changes are being quickly recognized by courts, several of which have agreed to halt litigation proceedings upon the mere filing of an IPR (months in advance of an Order to grant the IPR petitions).

Previously, when an inter partes or ex parte patent reexamination was the basis for the motion to stay the court proceeding, the strongest plaintiff arguments in opposition were that the significant USPTO delay would prove prejudicial to the plaintiff…not any more. Read the rest of this entry »

Public Policy vs. PTAB Post Grant Settlements

Posted On: Jul. 23, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown
IPR-settlementUSPTO Faces Public Policy Dilemma

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has the power to terminate an Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post Grant Review (PGR), or Transitional Proceeding for Covered Business Method Patents (CBM) upon request of the parties. This discretionary power to terminate a patentability challenge by agreement (37 C.F.R. § 42.74) is a new concept for the USPTO. Historically reexamination proceedings could not be terminated by agreement. In reexaminations (inter partes) where the contesting parties settled their dispute, the challenging party would simply drop out of the inter partes reexamination, but the Office would continue with the reexamination in the interests of public policy.  (cfterminating an inter partes patent reexamination by operation of estoppel).

The PTAB greatly benefits from the ability to terminate post grant patent proceedings. This is because Board resources can be moved away from post grant proceedings that are no longer commercially relevant (at least as to the present parties) to those newly initiated, and there are plenty of them. Likewise, the ability to settle seems to encourage resolution of disputes as roughly 30 IPRs and CBMs have settled to date. But, some would argue that the public is left holding the bag for suspect patents that escape cancellation by operation of a private settlement.

While it is true that another challenger could come along and pick up where the last left off, such would be at a significant cost— AND the public would essentially be paying the USPTO twice for the same proceeding. Yet, there is a far better solution to this problem already on the books, one that would still allow the Board to free up judicial bandwidth.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Value of Post Grant Patent Prosecution History

Posted On: Jul. 1, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown
problemClaim Cancellation is Not Always Necessary

A successful post grant patent challenge, whether it be through patent reexamination or a Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) review proceeding, does not always require a claim amendment or cancellation. In other words, even where claims are found patentable, statements in the reexamination record that are inconsistent with arguments made in a concurrent litigation may provide key evidence necessary to prevail during a Markman hearing, or offer new, non-infringement positions to defendants.

Last week, in In re Transdata, Inc. Smart MetersPatent Litigation (OKWD), the Court cited to statements made by a Patentee during patent reexamination (90/011,432) of U.S. Patent 6,181,294 that were deemed inconsistent Read the rest of this entry »

Stays Pending USPTO Review to Increase as a Result of Speedier AIA Options

Posted On: Apr. 29, 2013   By: Scott A. McKeown
Stay pending post grantIncreased Speed and Heightened Threshold Showing for New PTAB Proceedings Drive Stays

The primary business distinctions between the USPTO Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings and traditional court based patent invalidity proceedings are the vast improvements in cost, predictability, effectiveness, and speed of PTAB proceedings— but it is the speed and effectiveness that is changing the perspective of the judiciary on staying litigation pending USPTO proceedings.

As most are aware, the old patent reexamination system, at least on the inter partes side, has been replaced by IPR. IPR must be concluded by statute within 12-18 months, a marked improvement over the (roughly speaking) previous 6+year path through the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU), Board of Patent Appeals & Interferences (BPAI) and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). These changes are being quickly recognized by courts, several of which have agreed to halt litigation proceedings upon the mere filing of an IPR (months in advance of an Order to grant the IPR petitions).

Previously, when an inter partes patent reexamination was the basis for the motion to stay the court proceeding, the strongest plaintiff arguments in opposition were that the significant USPTO delay would prove prejudicial to the plaintiff. Indeed, some of the cases stayed in the early days of inter partes reexamination are only now being reopened, 8 years later.  Read the rest of this entry »