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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 ‘Intervening Rights and Survival of Claims’ Category

Patent Reissue Disproves Fraud Allegation

Posted On: Apr. 14, 2011   By: Scott A. McKeown
reissueWalker Process Allegation Defeated by Re-issuance of Original Patent Claims

Post grant proceedings before the USPTO cannot cure inequitable conduct. This is because the inequitable conduct inquiry centers on the patentee’s intent during the prosecution of the original application. Still, a finding that a reference lacks materiality by the USPTO in a post grant proceeding can be quite useful to a patentee for rebutting a charge of inequitable conduct. Likewise, a finding of materiality by the USPTO in a post grant proceeding can be quite useful to defendants for bolstering a charge of inequitable conduct. In this same vein, a recent case has demonstrated that a favorable post grant result at the USPTO may be used to completely preclude allegations of fraud that rely upon the “but for” test, such as a Walker Process claim.

A Walker Processclaim seeks to strip a patentee of its exemption from the antitrust laws. Several factors must be present to prove such a claim, one of which is “a clear showing of reliance, i.e., that the patent would not have issued but for the misrepresentation or omission.”

In U.S. Rubber Recycling, Inc. v. ECORE International Inc., et al.(CDCA), plaintiff, U.S. Rubber, alleged that Read the rest of this entry »

Practical Impact of Patent Reissue Pendency

Posted On: Oct. 28, 2010   By: Scott A. McKeown
hiatusEquitable Intervening Rights a Function of USPTO Delay?

Whether a narrowing patent reissue application or broadening patent reissue application, USPTO pendency delay is significant. As discussed yesterday, narrowing reissue applications appear to  fare no better than regular U.S. applications, and broadening reissue applications have been known to take as long as 10 years to complete.

Of course, amendments made during patent reissue will result in absolute intervening rights defense for potential infringers. As damages for such amended/new claims will not begin to accrue until issued, Patentees have nothing to gain by dallying during patent reissue prosecution. In fact, as demonstrated by a recent district court ruling, significant pendency delay may in fact create a further limit on available damages for amended/new claims under the doctrine of equitable intervening rights. Read the rest of this entry »

Change in Transitional Phrase Can Trigger Intervening Rights

Posted On: May. 26, 2010   By: Robert C. Mattson

Safety-Signs-1065A-lg1-300x300Previously, we explored what types of amendments to claims under post-grant review can trigger intervening rights.

As you may recall, claim amendments in current post grant proceedings at the USPTO (i.e., reexamination/reissue) create intervening rights. 35 U.S.C. 307 (ex parte) and 35 U.S.C. 316 (inter partes) describe the impact of amending claims in patent reexamination, incorporating 35 USC 252 (relating to intervening rights in reissue applications). In essence, the doctrine of intervening rights forecloses the recovery of past damages for patent infringement if a claim is amended after issuance of the patent.

The case of Kim v. The Earthgrains Co., k/n/a Sara Lee Bakery Group Inc., 01-cv-3895 (N.D. Ill.), presented the issue of whether a change in the transitional phrase (i.e., legally operative terms) of a patent claim could trigger intervening rights. Read the rest of this entry »

Flicking the Patent Reset Switch

Posted On: Mar. 15, 2010   By: Scott A. McKeown


– Reducing  Infringement Liability Via
         Intervening Rights (PART I)–

As reported last week, USPTO reexamination of Amazon’s “1-click patent” concluded with the amendment of the broadest claims. In response, many Internet news sources, and IP blogs decried the reexamination process and the USPTO as a failed system. Yet, lost in the hysteria and naiveté is a very fundamental concept of post-grant proceedings at the USPTO, namely, the doctrine of intervening rights.

USPTO statistics very clearly bear out that complete cancellation of ALL patent claims via ex parte reexamination, such as was conducted of Amazon’s 1-click patent, is the exceptional case, not the rule.  Indeed, as of December 2009, only 11% of ex parte reexaminations conclude with all claims cancelled. Yet, roughly 600 requests for ex parte reexamination have been filed every year since the inception of the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU). With only 11% of patents having all claims cancelled over a 20+ year period, clearly the strategy behind ex parte reexamination requests is something other than outright cancellation.[1]

Certainly, a third party requestor would be pleased with the cancellation of all claims of a patent in reexamination, however Read the rest of this entry »

Are the Principles Set Forth in Ex Parte Bayles Good Law? Do these Principles Apply to Continuation Reissues?

Posted On: Dec. 14, 2009   By: Stephen G. Kunin

On March 7, 1912, the Commissioner of Patents decided in Ex parte Bayles, 176 O.G. 749 that “[u]ntil a[n] [reissue] application is ended in all its divisions the vitality of the original patent continues so far as required to support that portion of the [reissue] application which remains undecided.” This would be true even if the parent reissue patent were to issue during the pendency of the divisional application.

On August 31, 1911, the petitioner in Bayles filed a reissue application containing both method and apparatus claims found in the original patent. Subsequently, by amendment, the petitioner canceled the method claims for the purpose of filing a divisional reissue application. The divisional reissue application claiming the method was filed prior to issuance of the parent reissue application claiming the apparatus. The Commissioner relied on the August 31, 1880 decision of the Acting Attorney-General in the case of ex parte Greaves (C.D., 1880, 213; 18 O.G., 623; 16 Op. Atty. Gen., 560) holding that the good sense of the maxim pendente lite nihil innovator applied. The purported surrender of the original patent when the parent reissue patent issued after the filing of the divisional reissue application did not prevent a division of the reissue from issuing.

In MPEP § 1451 (II) states that “[t]he decision of In re Graff, 111 F.3d 874, 42 USPQ2d 1471 (Fed. Cir. 1997) interprets 35 U.S.C. 251 to permit multiple reissue patents to issue even where the multiple reissue patents are not for “distinct and separate parts of the thing patented.” This section further cautions that “[a]s is true for the case of multiple divisional reissue applications, all of the claims of the patent to be reissued must be presented in both the parent reissue application and the continuation reissue application in some form, i.e., as amended, as unamended, or as canceled. The same claim of the patent cannot, however be presented for examination in both the parent reissue application and the continuation reissue application, as a pending claim, in either its original or amended versions. …Where the parent reissue application issues **>before< the examination of the continuation >reissue application<, the claims of the continuation >reissue application< should be carefully reviewed for double patenting over the claims of the parent >reissue application<. Where the parent and the continuation reissue applications are examined together, a provisional double patenting rejection should be made in both cases as to any overlapping claims. See MPEP § 804 – § 804.04 as to double patenting rejections. Any terminal disclaimer filed to obviate an obviousness-type double patenting rejection ensures common ownership of the reissue patents throughout the remainder of the unexpired term of the original patent.”

However, the MPEP is silent as to the effect of the language of 35 U.S.C. § 252 which indicates that “[t]he surrender of the original patent shall take effect upon the issue of the reissued patent, and every reissued patent shall have the same effect and operation in law, on the trial of actions for causes thereafter arising, as if the same had been originally granted in such amended form, but in so far as the claims of the original and reissued patents are substantially identical, such surrender shall not affect any action then pending nor abate any cause of action then existing, and the reissued patent, to the extent that its claims are substantially identical with the original patent, shall constitute a continuation thereof and have effect continuously from the date of the original patent.” Do the principles announced in ex parte Bayles apply? Namely, because a continuation reissue was filed prior to issuance of the parent reissue patent does surrender of the original patent not take place until issuance of the last continuation reissue patent?

Suppose that the original patent claimed an invention AB. Within two years of the grant of the original patent a broadened reissue application was filed claiming the invention as AB, AbrBsp and AspBsp. During examination applicant facing a rejection of claims to AB, and AbrBsp, chooses to file a continuation reissue as to these claims, while thereafter letting the parent reissue application claiming only AspBsp issue. Putting aside the obviousness-type double patenting issue that can be obviated by filing a terminal disclaimer in the continuation reissue application, what effect, if any, does section 252 have on the examination of claims AB in the continuation reissue application. Are claims to AB surrendered by operation of section 252 or do the Bayles principles apply to avoid the surrender of original patent claims to AB?

We are unaware of any Federal Circuit precedent directly on point. We leave it to you to decide.