Post-Grant Review
By Scott A. McKeown
| June 21, 2017
Another WiFi One Hint from the CAFC

"Closely Tied" Language of Cuozzo & Institution-Centric Statutes


The en banc opinion on the scope of the AIA's appeal bar (35 U.S.C. §§ 324(e)/314(d)) remains outstanding in WiFi One.  Still, we have seen a few opinions from the Federal Circuit as of late that nibble around the edges of this issue.  From these decisions, we see the Court focusing on the statute underlying the appealed issue, and whether or not that statute is tied, in timing or substance, to the institution stage.  The most recent, Credit Acceptance Corp. v. Westlake Services, found another exception to the appeal bar for CBM estoppel. 35 U.S.C. 325(e)(1).
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By Scott A. McKeown
| June 13, 2017
AIA Trials Unconstitutional? Don

High Court to Review Constitutionality of AIA Trials


The Supreme Court has had at least three occasions over the past 7 months to review the constitutionality of AIA trial proceedings — it declined all three invitations. Thus, the writing appeared to be on the wall when the same question was posed recently in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group.  But, then the Federal Circuit wavered somewhat as to its conviction in its own precedent on point.  When asked to reconsider the debate as to whether a patent is purely a private right or public right (as previously decided in MCM Portfolio LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Co. et al.) the CAFC's en banc denial of that request a few weeks ago (here) was a split decision.  (As a reminder, as a public right, a patent may be adjudicated by an Article I court).

Never one to shy away from a new opportunity to set the CAFC straight, the High Court suddenly became interested in the very same debate it only very recently passed over three times, granting certiorari yesterday. (Order here, briefs here)
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By Scott A. McKeown
| June 12, 2017
Preliminary Response Evidence Should Focus on Technology

Preliminary Responses Accompanied by Declaration Evidence: Updated Results 


Back on May 1st of 2016, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) began to accept new testimonial evidence with patentee preliminary responses.  The PTAB implemented this change to address complaints of patentees who claimed they were disadvantaged by previous rules precluding such new evidence from accompanying a preliminary response. It was argued that the previous rules were especially imbalanced as almost all petitions were accompanied by petitioner declaration evidence, and that absent evidence in kind from patentees, institution was unavoidable.  I had my doubts as to whether this new mechanism would be the boon that patentees had hoped.

Now a year removed, some updated results.
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By Scott A. McKeown
| June 7, 2017
En Banc Denial of CBM Issue Raises Appeal Bar Debate

Focus of CBM Standing Analysis: Claim Language


Yesterday, the Federal Circuit denied en banc review in Secure Axcess LLC v. PNC Bank National Assoc., et al.  The rehearing request sought a full court review of America Invents Act (AIA) Sec. 18's definition of a "business method patent." This same issue was denied en banc review in April of this year in Google v. Unwired PlanetAs in that decision, the dissents from denial raised the appeal bar debate now awaiting decision in WiFi One.
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By Scott A. McKeown
| May 23, 2017
PTAB Trial Estoppel Demystified in EDTX?

Recent Decision out of EDTX First to Get PTAB Estoppel Provision Correct


IPR estoppel is established under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2), which provides that “the petitioner in an inter partes review of a claim in a patent . . . that results in a final written decision . . . may not assert . . . in a civil action . . . that the claim is invalid on any ground that the petitioner raised or reasonably could have raised during that inter partes review.” (emphasis added).

As previously discussed, IPR estoppel has been unnecessarily complicated by the PTAB's redundancy practice as discussed in Shaw Industries Group, Inc. v. Automated Creel Systems, Inc., 817 F.3d 1293 (Fed. Cir. 2016

For example, the district court in Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Toshiba Corp., Civ. No. 13-453, explained that, based on Shaw, it was necessary to interpret the scope of estoppel very narrowly, only applying estoppel to prior art or publications actually instituted in the IPR.  As this decision contradicts the plain language of the estoppel statute, it has been heavily criticized as too literal a reading of Shaw.  More recently, several other district courts have taken a more expansive view of Shaw.  But, in my opinion the first district to actually get it right, is, surprisingly, this week's venue whipping boy— the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX).
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By Scott A. McKeown
| May 22, 2017
Eliminating Partial PTAB Institutions Will Undermine Trial Practice

"All or Nothing" PTAB Institution Practice Coming Soon?

Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in SAS Institute Inc., v. ComplemenSoft LLC.   As previously explained, SAS argues that partial PTAB trial institutions are inconsistent with the controlling statutes of the America Invents Act (AIA).  That is, if the PTAB finds that at least one claim is demonstrated as likely unpatentable, the PTAB should institute trial for all petitioned claims.  

The dispute stems from an IPR filing of SAS in which it challenged all sixteen claims of ComplementSoft’s 7,110,936 patent.  Trial was instituted for claims 1 and 3-10, but claims 2 and 11-16 were denied institution.  On appeal to the Federal Circuit, SAS argued that it was inefficient to institute on only a subset of claims, and that the controlling rule authorizing partial institution (37 C.F.R. § 42.108(a) was in direct conflict with statutes 35 U.S.C. §§ 314(a)/318(a).  The Federal Circuit disagreed.

Basically, SAS is seeking an end-run around the 314(d) appeal bar.  In other words, had the PTAB simply moved forward with trial on all claims, SAS would have been able to appeal any unfavorable decision on claims 2 and 11-16 (presumably would have been found not unpatentable at the close of trial) as part of its appeal from the Final Written Decision (FWD).  As it currently stands, 314(d) prevents the appeal of claims 2 and 11-16 since they were denied institution. 

Setting aside for another day the academic debate on the merits, should the high court accept SAS's argument, Patentees will be significantly prejudiced.

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By Scott A. McKeown
| May 18, 2017
Constitutional Challenges to PTAB Another Dead End

Public vs. Private Rights: Another PTAB Distraction


We all remember the "Great BRI Debate" that was Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC v. Lee, 136 S. Ct. 2131, 2143–44 (2016). PTAB critics argued that the Board's "broadest" claim construction rubric was unfairly stretching claims to embrace prior art — resulting in inevitable invalidity determinations. And that since the PTAB was now in the business of litigation, they must follow litigation claim construction practices deemed more favorable to patent holders (especially since the PTAB amendment process, the justification for BRI, was argued as illusory).  

In reality, the difference between BRI and the district court Philips practices is the label used to reference each. Both constructions apply the ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term at the time of the invention from the perspective of one of skill in the art. The difference in outcomes is a simple reflection of expert agency's technical insight, not a meaningful difference in claim construction frameworks. For this reason, and many others, Cuozzo failed.

Attempts to derail PTAB trial proceedings still persist some 5 years into its life. These attempts now include recycling failed constitutional arguments against Article I adjudication practices.

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By Scott A. McKeown
| April 17, 2017
Denied Petition Grounds May Be Relevant to PTAB Trial

CAFC Emphasizes that Art of Denied Petition Grounds Can Come Back to Haunt Patentees


It is not uncommon for an AIA Trial Proceeding, such as Inter Partes Review (IPR), to be instituted on a subset of unpatentability grounds presented in the petition. For example, IPR is currently granted on a claim-by-claim basis.  That is, petition grounds can be accepted or denied based upon the Patent Trial & Appeal Board's (PTAB) conclusions as to whether a reasonable likelihood of prevailing is shown for a given patent claim.

In the case of partial PTAB trial institutions, Patentees will often employ a strategy to formally object to the aspects of the preliminary record that include reference to prior art of the denied grounds.  The thinking here is that the objection will preserve the right to exclude this seemingly irrelevant art from the record at the close of trial. 37 C.F.R. § 42.64. Yet, art of a denied petition ground can be (and usually is) highly relevant at trial.

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By Scott A. McKeown
| March 23, 2017
PTAB Preliminary Response Evidence Remains Unpopular

Preliminary Responses Accompanied by Declaration Evidence: Updated Results 


Back on May 1st, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) began to accept new testimonial evidence with patentee preliminary responses.  The PTAB implemented this change to address complaints that patentees were disadvantaged by previous rules precluding such evidence from accompanying a preliminary response to the petition. It was argued that the previous rules were especially imbalanced as almost all petitions were accompanied by petitioner declaration evidence.  I had my doubts.

Now that we are approaching a year removed from the rule modification, some updated results.  

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By Scott A. McKeown
| February 22, 2017
Is In re Packard the Correct Standard for AIA Trials?

In re Packard Inextricably Linked to Patent Examination Practices?


Back in 2014, the Federal Circuit determined the standard for a USPTO indefiniteness analysis in In re Packard (here). This standard was more deferential to the agency as compared to the district court's "reasonable certainty" standard later enunciated in Nautilus v, Biosig Instruments Inc.  When Packard issued, I questioned whether that standard could be argued to apply to post-grant proceedings. This was because the Court's determination in Packard was deeply rooted in patent examination practices.

More recently, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has adopted Packard in some of its decisions analyzing claims under 35 U.S.C. § 112 (e.g., PGR20015-00018, Telebrands Corp. v. Tinnus Enterprises LLC). But, decisions of the Federal Circuit since Packard, have made clear that grounds of unpatentability in AIA trial proceedings are not akin to rejections in patent examination.  As explained by the court in In re Magnum Oil Tools Int’l, Ltd. the prima facie procedural mechanisms of patent examination do not comport with proper AIA trial practices.

Will the CAFC pull the rug out from under the PTAB's application of Packard in AIA trails?

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