CLE Provided

This coming Thursday at 12PM (EST), IPWatchdog will host the free webinar entitled: PTAB Rules: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. The webinar will cover the recent Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), preview stakeholder reactions, Congressional concerns, and discuss the most likely outcomes. Register (here)

With comments due from the public on or before June 20th, this topic will remain a focus of the agency for the remainder of 2024 and beyond. I hope you are able to join this important discussion.

Reexamination Deference?

The excessive scope of the PTO’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on AIA Trial practices is deliberate as it provides favorable optics for the current administration.

Presenting all ideas to the public as opposed to culling out the more (ahem)… “creative,” showcases the open mindedness of the administration—particularly to patent owners. Perhaps a savvy move from a public relations perspective; not so much on the side of demonstrating competence to Congress. As the Director learned a week or so back when testifying before the House Judiciary, public proposals that appear to directly conflict with the AIA statutes, and/or encroach upon the role of the legislature are plainly unwelcome. That said, the warnings of Congress must be reinforced by stakeholder submissions.

The time is now for stakeholders to separate the wheat from the chaff through submitted comments (and in the process provide the agency political cover for the obvious cuts). And an absolute avalanche of comments is coming by the June 20th deadline.

I’ll post thoughts on as many of the proposals as possible here (on an ongoing basis), starting today with the worst of the worst. At the very top of the list of bad ideas is one that has the agency seemingly questioning the PTAB Trial Section’s very purpose.

Continue Reading Proposal to Elevate Patent Reexamination Antithetical to AIA Statutes

Boardside Chat Tuesday

This Tuesday (noon to 1PM EST), the PTAB will conduct a webinar Information Session with the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Kathi Vidal to address the recently published Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Public input is sought by June 20th on proposed changes to discretionary institution practices, petition word limits, and settlement practices for AIA proceedings before the PTAB.

While Boardside webinars typically include a Q&A session, questions were not solicited in this notice. As such, this appears to be more in the way of a standard explanation of the numerous proposals.

Register (here)

Word Count Fees, Inflationary Bump, & Director Review

As I discussed earlier this week, the USPTO has released a laundry list of proposed practice changes for consideration — some, good, some bad, some ugly. One of the better ideas is allowing petitioners, for a commensurate expanded word count fee, to exceed the standard word count limit for a single petition such that larger claim sets can be addressed in a single filing. This avoids the current practice of splitting a single patent challenge across multiple petition filings.

The fees for the above proposal will be considered at a hearing next month, and are targeted to become effective for FY 2025. Additionally, existing PTAB filing fees are proposed to increase by 25%, justification for which is explained as a reaction to inflation and additional work resulting from Arthrex. And, finally, there is a new fee proposed for seeking Director Review.

Here’s the breakdown of the proposed increases and newly added fees:

Continue Reading Increased PTAB Fees & Newly Proposed Costs

Unnecessarily Ambitious

Late last week the USPTO issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that floated numerous rule proposals and requests for feedback — too numerous. Proposals addressing current 314(a) and 325(d) practices were not only expected, but long overdue. While these expected proposals were included in the sprawling Notice, the rule-making process will undoubtedly be bogged down by the remaining collection of controversial ideas and administrative over-reach.

Keep in mind that 314(a) Fintiv practices could soon be struck down as improper circumvention of APA rule-making. Stalling the issuance of those rules for at least another 12-18 months – if not longer – seems like a bad idea. My guess is political pressure from outside the agency led to the laundry list of additional proposals. Especially as they relate to for-profit entities in the wake of the Open Sky debacle.

Regardless, of how or why the expansive ANPRM came to be, I’ll walk through each proposal/idea in detail below (ANPRM here)

Continue Reading PTAB Rule Ideas – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Burden on Proponent of Affirmative Defense

Back in 2016 district courts started encountering infringement suits where the subject patents had survived PTAB challenge. In such scenarios, estoppel applied to failed petitioners under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2). To asses whether invalidity defenses asserted in the later court case should be estopped as arguments that “reasonably could have been raised” in the failed IPRs, the courts needed to determine whether the newly asserted art could have been located by a reasonably skilled searcher at IPR filing. But, 325(e)(2) is silent as to which party bears the burden of proof on this issue of estoppel.

That is, does the Patent Challenger have to show that it could not have found the art with reasonable diligence, or, does the Patent Owner have to show that art could have been found with reasonable diligence?

Most courts held that since estoppel was an affirmative defense, the burden fell on the proponent patent owner. Today, in a precedential decision, the Federal Circuit agreed.

Continue Reading PTAB Estoppel Proof Falls to Patent Owners

Rule Effort Worthwhile?

Back in November of 2021, the Northern District of California dismissed an APA lawsuit filed by a number of large companies seeking to challenge the PTAB’s NHK-Fintiv practices. At that time, I opined that the Court had overlooked some of the key APA arguments, and that the Federal Circuit would likely offer a more nuanced view. Yesterday, the Court, reversed-in-part and remanded for further consideration of the APA challenge.

Of particular interest, the Federal Circuit found that the APA challenge to the NHK-Fintiv practices (i.e., that such practices were unlawful absent notice and comment rulemaking) should not have been dismissed for lack of standing. While this may have been a very exciting development a year or so back, it is a bit anticlimactic in 2023.

Continue Reading PTAB Fintiv Practices On the Way Out?

Declarations Are Often Limited in Scope & Content

The USPTO Director issued a precedential decision last month in Xerox Corp. v. Bytemark, Inc. that explained declarant testimony that merely repeats, verbatim, conclusory assertions of the petition (without citing additional evidence or providing technical reasoning), is to be given little weight. I didn’t find this determination to be blogworthy since this was how such testimony was being consistently treated by the Board.

What strikes me most about the decision was the need for the PTAB to have to emphasize such to the bar in the first place.

Continue Reading A PTAB Declaration is Not an Expert Report

Fintiv Not a Single Step Framework

USPTO Director Vidal has issued a number of sua sponte Director decisions since her arrival. I haven’t bothered discussing them here as the majority are directed to rather unique 314(a) fact patterns that are unlikely to repeat going forward.

Today, in Commscope Technologies LLC v. Dali Wireless the Director issued her most recent decision on 314(a) practices. This decision, while similar in character to the previous decisions, shows the Director’s interest in assuring that her 314(a) framework is correctly followed.

Continue Reading Director Wants Full Fintiv Analysis from PTAB

Panel Dependency Reinforces Bad Behaviors

As discussed last October, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s (PTAB) lack of consistency in addressing attorney misbehavior is a growing problem. Whether PTAB panels are busy attending to statutory deadlines on their docket, or turning a blind eye to procedural squabbles to better focus on the merits, the end result is that attorney misbehavior remains largely unchecked.

Attorneys that practice in district courts would never disregard applicable local rules. And district court judges that author such would not allow their rules to be ignored. While some PTAB judges take similar ownership of their forum, such APJs are increasingly few and far between. As a result, the “it doesn’t hurt to try” philosophy is becoming the de facto rule on many aspects of PTAB procedure.

Continue Reading The PTAB Needs Procedural Consistency