Board Sanctions Patentee in IPR Proceedings

37 C.F.R. § 42.12 provides that the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) the power to sanction parties. The Board  has been reluctant to officially sanction parties given the relative newness of the AIA trial proceedings. The power to sanction parties was only been even alluded to in a handful of cases — which is typically enough. To my knowledge, the Board had yet to officially sanction a party. And then last week, a Patentee came along and pretty much volunteered to be the first.

In SAP America v. Lakshmi Arunachalam (IPR2014-00413, 00414) the pro se patentee appears to have challenged the impartiality of one of the assigned Administrative Patent Judges (APJ) based upon their mutual fund holdings (presumably accessed by a FOIA filing — all PTAB judges fill out a financial disclosure form every year). In doing so, the Patentee uploaded some documents to the Patent Review Processing System (PRPS) that were not only unauthorized, but were quite offensive. Similar statements were put on a web page, along with others accusing quite a few district court and CAFC judges of similar misdeeds.

The December 6, 2014 Order (here) explains:

On November 26, 2014, the First Subject Papers were released publicly on an Internet web site referring to Patent Owner by name. The web site includes a picture of Judge McNamara superimposed on a background of simulated targets with a skull and crossbones in a yellow triangle and a link to the First Subject Papers. The “who is” database for the linked site hosting the First Subject Papers lists identification information, at least some of which appears to be fabricated. Attempts to intimidate Judge McNamara, or any of the other persons identified on the Web site, are unacceptable.

As a result, the Patentee is no longer permitted to upload documents to PRPS and must submit (subsequent to pre-approval) paper filings. The patentee was warned that further misconduct would result in adverse judgment.