Aqua Products Results in De-designation of Previous Amendment Precedent

In view of the decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Aqua Products, Inc. v. Matal, 872 F.3d 1290 (Fed. Cir. 2017), regarding motion to amend practice and procedure in AIA trials, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has de-designated as precedential MasterImage 3D, Inc. v. RealD Inc., Case IPR2015-00040 (PTAB July 15, 2015) (Paper 42) and has de-designated as informative Idle Free Sys., Inc. v. Bergstrom, Inc., Case IPR2012-00027 (June 11, 2013) (Paper 26). Both decisions have been removed from PTAB’s Precedential and Informative Decisions web page.

Concurrently, the PTAB has designated as informative the following order in Western Digital Corp. v. SPEX Techs., Inc., which provides guidance on motion to amend practice in AIA trials such as: (1) contingent motions to amend; (2) the burden of persuasion that the Office applies when considering the patentability of substitute claims; (3) the requirement that a patent owner propose a reasonable number of substitute claims; (4) the requirement that the amendment respond to a ground of unpatentability involved in the trial; (5) the scope of the proposed substitute claims; (6) the requirement that a patent owner provide a claim listing with its motion to amend; (7) the default page limits that apply to motion to amend briefing; and (8) the duty of candor.

Pro-Patent Owner Options

The new Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in record time. With only a few weeks on the job, the Director issued a NPRM to switch the Broadest Reasonable Interpretation (BRI) currently used in Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) trial proceedings to a Phillips claim construction. The proposal was quickly lauded by Patent Owners believing that the application of the Phillips standard by the PTAB will lead to narrower claim constructions, and thus, more patents being upheld by the agency. But, as I pointed out previously, in practice, BRI is rarely different from a Phillips construction. In fact, utilizing the same standard at the PTAB as in the courts might only make matters worse for Patent Owners from a monetization perspective.

Impact of the proposed claim construction change aside, the speed at which the Director has acted speaks to his keen interest in improving the PTAB playing field for Patent Owners. With the Director expected to issue further proposals to aid Patent Owners, below are some likely candidates. Continue Reading How Might the Director Improve the PTAB for Patent Owners?