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

Estoppel Future Uncertain

As pointed out last month, the SCOTUS has sought the Solicitor General’s input in Apple et al., v. California Institute of Technology. If the case is taken up, the Court will consider limiting the scope of IPR estoppel to art that was included in the petition, and that art which reasonably could have been raised “during the IPR.”

At present, “reasonably could have raised” is assessed at the time the petition is drafted (i.e., what could have been included in the petition), not what could have been included in the later trial (which is effectively nothing). While it is far from certain whether the Court will take the case — let alone narrow estoppel— petitioners might still consider their stipulation wording until this dispute is settled.

Continue Reading Sotera Stipulations to Haunt PTAB Petitioners?

Court Takes Issue with DJ Filing Prior to IPR

Patent infringement defendants seek IPR of patents asserted against them at the PTAB as an alternative to higher cost litigation. That is, a primary benefit of seeking IPR is the ability to seek a stay of the costlier district court action on the basis that the outcome of the IPR may moot the dispute through cancellation of the asserted claims, or at least greatly simplify the issues for trial.

Yet, not all patent litigation is initiated by patent owners. Often times a potential defendant will seek a Declaratory Judgment (DJ) to secure a favored district court forum in anticipation of an imminent litigation in a less favorable district (typically Texas)

Recently, the District of Delaware considered the impact of such proactive conduct on the typical IPR stay analysis.

Continue Reading PTAB Stay Calculus Considers DJ History

Scope of Estoppel Considered for Review

IPR estoppel is defined by 35 U.S.C. 315(e). The statute recites in relevant part that any claim subject to a failed IPR may not be argued by that petitioner in an infringement action as “invalid on any ground that the petitioner raised or reasonably could have raised during that inter partes review.” 315(e)(2)

While there has been much debate in the lower courts as to the scope of “reasonably could have raised,” and even “ground,” the debate currently before the SCOTUS in Apple et al., v. California Institute of Technology turns on the meaning of “during.” That is, whether “reasonably could have raised” is assessed at the time the petition is drafted, or, during the actual proceeding. If estoppel is determined at the outset of petition drafting that scope is far broader than what could be added to an ongoing IPR proceeding (i.e., next to nothing).

Should this question ultimately taken up, the outcome could have significant consequences.

Continue Reading SCOTUS Seeks Gov’t Input on IPR Estoppel

Would a “Mini-Markman” Have Helped Patent Owners?

A long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away….the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) considered implementing a Markman style claim construction procedure it labeled a “Mini-Markman.” The idea, along with others was the result of a 2015-16 listening tour conducted by the agency under former USPTO Director Michelle Lee. The listening tour stopped at several locations across the U.S. to collect public feedback on AIA trial proceedings. The tour culminated in a draft rule package that contained a number of interesting ideas. Needless to say, that rule package was abandoned and never saw the light of day (for reasons unknown)

As we move into the new year and look forward to coming PTAB rule packages on discretionary denials and rehearing practices, I revisit this old idea in view of the never ending dialog on reforming the PTAB.

Continue Reading The Long Lost PTAB Markman Plan

2-Day Program Offers Comprehensive View

For those looking for some PTAB related CLE (hello, who isn’t !?), consider the upcoming PTAB Masters program Jan. 31 – Feb. 1. The third annual program is designed as a high-level, interactive, limited enrollment program, and is held in person at IPWatchdog Studios, minutes from Dulles International Airport. The

Re-work Frustrates Patent Owners & The System

I have written about Patent Owner estoppel for years. That is, estoppel stemming from claims cancelled in PTAB trial proceedings. This estoppel is based on the idea that, if you have an amendment to bring to a given claim set, you should bring that amendment during the trial — not thereafter, such as in a patent reissue, reexamination or continuation application.

Rule 42.73 (d)(3)(i) explains that a Patent Applicant or a Patent Owner is precluded from taking action inconsistent with a claim cancellation, including, obtaining in any patent a claim that is not patentably distinct from a finally refused or cancelled claim. But, it is fairly common for unsuccessful Patent Owners to go right back after a PTAB loss and pursue substantively identical claims through patent reissue or reexamination. Why?

Patent Owners are not gluttons for punishment, they are just following the directions of the agency.

Continue Reading PTAB Estoppel is Confused By the USPTO