Virtual CLE Program January 24 – 27th

IPWatchdog’s PTAB Masters 2022 (PTAB-palooza if you prefer), is coming next week!

The free, 4-day CLE program is virtual, and will focus on the PTAB from the viewpoint of both the patent owner and petitioners challenging patents.  Topics will explore political and legislative developments impacting the agency in

Draft Bill Dead on Arrival

Last week, the “Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act” was again floated by Republican Congressman Thomas Massie (KY).  The same draft Bill was previously released in 2018 and 2020.  Backed only by a handful of relatively powerless House Republicans, the Bill proposes a number of highly controversial measures.  But, if you are going to dream, dream big!
Continue Reading Make Patent Trolls Great Again!

The Return of In-Person IP Conferences

In the words of princess Elsa…for the first time in forever.…there are a number of in-person IP conferences slated for this fall. (I’ve been cooped up with kids, I make Frozen references now)

First up is IPWatchdog Live 2021 September 12-14 in Dallas, Texas. The multi-day IPWatchdog

Amicus Briefing May Help Get SCOTUS Attention on Growing 101 Morass

In one of the more closely-watched cases involving patent eligibility, American Axle v. Neapco, Judge Moore recently highlighted how “bitterly divided” the Federal Circuit is on patent eligibility, and predicted with a “reasonable probability” that the Supreme Court will step in and force the Federal Circuit to reverse course on issues of eligibility.

American Axle—involving driveline propeller shafts for automotive engines—highlights the sharp divide in how various Federal Circuit panels apply the Supreme Court’s eligibility guidelines and the resulting uncertainty that inventors, patent owners, and accused infringers face in determining whether inventions are eligible under § 101 as interpreted by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank.  Indeed, in an earlier decision denying rehearing en banc, a sharply divided Court issued two concurrences justifying the panel’s application of § 101 law and three separate dissents urging the full court to take up the issue.  Understanding the differences in opinion here may help patent practitioners navigate tumultuous § 101 issues until the Supreme Court weighs in again.  American Axle petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari on December 20, 2020.  The petition calls for clarity on § 101 and may be taken up in conference shortly.

The Court has shown some interest in the case, soliciting views of the government. Amicus support has also followed, including a brief filed by Senators Tillis and Coons, and former PTO Director David Kappos. Consideration of American Axle is the quickest path to some form of clarity for patent subject matter eligibility disputes.

Continue Reading American Axle Offers A Glimmer of Hope on Potential 101 Reform

Agency Left to Defend Unsettled Legacy

Upon taking the reins at the USPTO, Director Iancu made clear that he believed the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) was cancelling too many patent claims in AIA trial proceedings.  Of course the PTAB was simply implementing the statutory framework given to it by Congress – and the Federal Circuit was largely affirming the PTAB’s work. So, the only possible “fix” for the Director was to rebalance the rules/practice to his liking (i.e., in favor of patent owners).

And he changed as much as he could, as fast as he could.
Continue Reading Activist Director Moves On – What’s Next for the PTAB?

CAFC Holds IPR Claim Amendments Subject To Full Patentability Examination

Yesterday, a divided CAFC panel held in Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hulu, LLC (here) that during an IPR proceeding, the Board may consider any patentability challenge—including subject matter eligibility—if the Patent Owner moves to amend its claims under § 316(d).  The Court continues to emphasize the agency’s duty to the public in assessing patentability of the patent claims it issues.
Continue Reading 101 is Fair Game for Assessing PTAB Amendments

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

Lack of Stakeholder Consensus on 101 Effort

The sponsors of the promised bill to reform 35 U.S.C. § 101 are struggling to regain earlier momentum. It seems that the inclusion of the 112(f) provision (designed to bring Big Tech to the table on an otherwise unwelcome reform effort) has not been effective. Worse, the 112 provision has actually turned off some in Bio/Pharma. As such, the 101 bill promised back in July now appears to be slipping to October.

Given the recent complications, the Stronger Patents Act has been dusted off to remind Big Tech that, at least in theory, there could be much worse legislative consequences than a more patent friendly 101 statute. 
Continue Reading Political Theater & The Stronger Patents Act

Takings Challenge to IPR Fails

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Cuozzo Speed, there has been speculation that there may be an opportunity to attack AIA trials on different constitutional grounds. Most recently, it was argued that cancellation of an improvidently granted patent constituted a 5th Amendment “taking.”

In Celgene Corporation v. Peter, perhaps not surprisingly, the Federal Circuit held that “IPRs do not differ significantly enough from preexisting PTO mechanisms for reevaluating the validity of issued patents to constitute a Fifth Amendment taking.”

While IPRs do not differ significantly from reexamination in scope, CBM proceedings do. 
Continue Reading Will a Takings Challenge to CBM Proceedings Succeed?