CAFC Implies PTO Might Overlook Some 112 Issues

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) does not accept trial grounds under 35 U.S.C § 112 in Inter Partes Review.  This is because the IPR statutes only authorize trial grounds based on patents and printed publications.  The same has been true of patent reexamination for decades.

Last week, in Samsung Elec. Am., Inc. v. Prisua Eng’g Corp., the Federal Circuit considered whether the Board may cancel claims under 112 when such issues arise during trial.  The Court held that the PTAB may not cancel claims under 112, but instead, might, for certain types of claims, proceed to decide the prior art grounds. Continue Reading Should the PTAB Determine Patentability of Unsupported Means-Plus-Function Claims?

Discretionary Consideration Bars ReturnMail Side-Step Via Intervenor

Last fall, I explained that the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) was considering the relationship of government contractors in Court of Federal Claim (COFC) patent disputes against the U.S. government.  That is, given the typical existence of a contract between the government and the contractor, what such a relationship meant for RPI/privy determinations.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the PTAB has found privity to exist between the government and its contractors in common contractual scenarios. For example, where the contractor intervenes in the COFC matter. And that the later AIA petition of the contractor (outside the 315(b) window of the government) is barred.

Perhaps more surprisingly, however, is the discretionary consideration under 314(a) relative to ReturnMail that would effectively close the PTAB to patent disputes at the COFC. Continue Reading PTAB Closed to Court of Federal Claims Matters?

CAFC Holds Petitioner to PTAB Choice

While we await the en banc determination in Arthrex/Polaris, there have been a number of recent remands back to the PTAB (i.e., where the Appointments Clause issue was first raised in the opening appellate brief). Given this, it may be that the Federal Circuit remains unimpressed with the government’s argument that failure to raise the issue before the PTAB results in forfeiture of the argument.  Still, given the supplemental briefing in Polaris as to the sufficiency of the Arthrex remedy, I am still expecting that at least this aspect of the debate is taken up en banc.

In the meantime, the Federal Circuit has made clear that the Appointments Clause issue will not benefit failed PTAB petitioners.

Continue Reading No Arthrex Relief for Failed PTAB Petitioners

Reexamination/Reissue, PTAB Bar, & IPWatchdog Con2020

A few CLE programs on the horizon, including the PTAB Bar Association annual meeting and the inaugural IPWatchdog Con!

First, this Tuesday at 1PM (EST) Stafford Legal presents the webinar: Patent Reexamination and Patent Reissue as Litigation Tools – Insulating Your Patent Portfolio From New Threats. This program will explore the current post-grant/patent litigation landscape with an eye toward emerging trends and challenges facing patent owners and challengers alike. Best practices for utilizing patent reissue/reexamination will be explored, along with potential pitfalls and nuances of these unique mechanisms.

Coming up in March, there are a number of exciting conferences.

First, the 2020 PTAB Bar Association Annual Conference will come to DC the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., on March 10-13th. Pre-conference sessions will be offered March 10th. I’m honored to once again moderate the PTAB Master Class.  

You can view the full agenda and session descriptions (here).

Later in March is IPWatchdog Con2020 arrives in Dallas Texas March 15-18th. This multi-day conference will cover the entirety of the IP landscape, including licensing, ethics, funding, prosecution.  I’m especially looking forward to this one, hope to see you there.

District of Delaware Considers Physical Products & Redundant Publications

Back in August, I pointed out that district courts continue to grapple with whether or not physical products described by prior art publications of an earlier Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) trial are subject to 315(e)(2) estoppel. That is, by virtue of utilizing a product manual in the earlier PTAB proceeding, whether the actual products corresponding to such a manual can be considered “raised, or reasonably could have been raised” under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2).

The view of some districts has been that since physical products can’t be raised at the PTAB, such evidence is simply outside the scope of estoppel.  Others take a narrower view, weighing the potential technical superiority of the physical product to the previously used publication.  In another twist on this fact pattern, the District of Delaware recently considered whether the underlying evidence of these disputes should be the focus at all. Continue Reading PTAB Estoppel: Grounds vs. Evidence

Arthrex Argument Being Added to Briefs

As detailed back in December, the government has sought en banc rehearing in Arthrex. In its petition, the government revisited the bases for the Court’s October decision and encouraged the Court to also grant rehearing in the Polaris dispute so that the court might address forfeiture in Arthrex and reach the remaining issues in Polaris (which is distinguished in the petition as having seasonably argued the issue before the agency).

In its Reply of last week, the government once again focuses on forfeiture, arguing that raising an Appointments Clause issue on appeal is too late.  To emphasize the issue, the Reply lists all of the newly filed appeals raising the issue for the first time. Continue Reading Gov’t Warns CAFC Over Growing Arthrex Docket

Adding New Blood into the Estoppel Mix

IPR estoppel under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2) 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 pointed out previously, a growing number of district courts have construed the phrase the “reasonably could have raised” aspect of 35 U.S.C. §§ 315(e)(2) to define grounds that a party could have included in its petition, but did not.

Assuming a failed petitioner can locate a piece of prior art that it could not have raised earlier (and make the appropriate showing to avoid estoppel) are combinations with failed art of the IPR precluded? Continue Reading Rehabilitating Failed PTAB Art

SCOTUS Declines to Wade Into 101 Morass

One of the more noteworthy IP law developments of 2019 was the patent subject matter eligibility (35 U.S.C. § 101) craze that swept Congress in the late spring of 2019.  With unprecedented marathon hearings, and almost universal agreement from dozens of witnesses on the unpredictable state of subject matter eligibility jurisprudence, a legislative fix appeared imminent. Yet, this craze was short-lived.  The significant momentum of the spring hearings fizzled into deadlock in late summer— then the entire effort was left for dead in the fall.  With Congress losing its traction, all eyes turned to the SCOTUS and the prominent cert petitions on the docket that raised the prospect of some form of 101 review from the high court.

But, the court denied all such cert petitions today.  Continue Reading 101 Debate Punted Back to Congress

New Tactics & Risks for Litigators

On Monday, I laid out my Top 5 PTAB cases of 2019 for PTAB Practitioners, focusing on those cases that changed day-to-day practices before the agency. Like Monday’s list, my Top 5 PTAB developments of 2019 for District Court Litigators will focus on those practical developments that will impact related litigation practices outside of the agency.

In 2019, there were a number developments of interest to litigators, from tricks to avoid the PTAB altogether, to new risks on fee awards and estoppel.   Continue Reading Top 5 PTAB Developments of 2019 for District Court Litigators

PTAB 2019: A Year of New Precedent

There were a number of high profile developments at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) in 2019. New procedures for amending claims, Practice Guide updates to thwart parallel petition filings, a successful constitutional challenge based on the Appointments Clause, and another SCOTUS review of the PTAB appeal bar.  But, not all of these developments impact the day-to-day life of PTAB practitioners.  Of greater interest to PTAB practitioners are the developments that change the game for the average AIA trial, with this in mind, below are my Top 5 PTAB Practitioner Developments of 2019. Continue Reading Top 5 PTAB Decisions of 2019 for PTAB Practitioners