PLI Program to Focus on New Patent Owner Opportunities

The USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is in the midst of a historic makeover. New leadership has recently introduced significant changes. These changes are designed to rebalance AIA trial practices to allow patent owners a fighting chance. From new claim construction standards, amendment options, revised 101 guidelines, expanded equitable assessments under 314(a), the game has changed.

Please join me today at 3PM (EST) for the Practising Law Institute’s: Getting Your Patent Out of the PTAB: New Opportunities. This program will explore new best practices and address how to leverage the evolving PTAB landscape, including new petitioner risks, patent owner opportunities and changes to come.

I am pleased to once again team with Rob Sterne of Sterne Kessler Goldstein and Fox on this PLI program. Register (here)

(REMINDER – Updated Link) 
PatentsPostGrant.com February Webinar

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) discontinued its Broadest Reasonable claim Interpretation (BRI) rubric for AIA trials in the closing weeks of 2018. With the PTAB and district courts now aligned under the Phillips claim construction standard, patent litigants must now manage parallel proceedings in the face of new estoppel risks, timing challenges, and tactical pitfalls.

Please join me for an interactive webinar discussion of these new strategic considerations Thursday, February 21st@2PM (EST). Register (here).

My co-presenter for this webinar will be Samuel Brenner, counsel in Ropes & Gray’s IP litigation practice.

The formal portion of the webinar will begin at 2PM Eastern and will last for approximately 50-60 minutes. After the presentation there will be a Q&A period.

To attend the free webinar please sign up via the link above. You will receive a registration confirmation email immediately. One hour prior to the webinar you’ll receive another email with a link and instructions for joining the presentation. CLE credit will be provided (CA, NYC, VA).

PatentsPostGrant.com February Webinar

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) discontinued its Broadest Reasonable claim Interpretation (BRI) rubric for AIA trials in the closing weeks of 2018. With the PTAB and district courts now aligned under the Phillips claim construction standard, patent litigants must now manage parallel proceedings in the face of new estoppel risks, timing challenges, and tactical pitfalls.

Please join me for an interactive webinar discussion of these new strategic considerations Thursday, February 21st@2PM (EST). Register (here).

My co-presenter for this webinar will be Matthew Rizzolo, a partner in Ropes & Gray’s IP litigation practice.

The formal portion of the webinar will begin at 2PM Eastern and will last for approximately 50-60 minutes. After the presentation there will be a Q&A period.

To attend the free webinar please sign up via the link above. You will receive a registration confirmation email immediately. One hour prior to the webinar you’ll receive another email with a link and instructions for joining the presentation. CLE credit will be provided (CA, NYC, VA).

PTAB 2018: A Year of Agency Recalibration

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) stole much of the 2018 patent law spotlight. From landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Oil States and SAS Institute, to significant en banc Federal Circuit decisions in WiFi-One, PTAB practice evolved more in 2018 than in any prior year. That said, the most impactful 2018 changes for practitioners were driven by the agency.

Under the pro-patent leadership of Director Iancu, the agency is expected to drive still further change in 2019. Continue Reading Top 5 PTAB Practice Developments of 2018

Assignor Estoppel Precluded by AIA Statutes…But What of Other Equitable Defenses?

The doctrine of assignor estoppel bars the assignor of a patent from challenging the validity of the patent after it is assigned. In considering this defense to an AIA trial proceeding, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) had consistently held that this common-law doctrine is subject to abrogation by statute, and that the AIA statutes do exactly that. The Federal Circuit recently agreed.

However, the Board has considered and applied other equitable defenses. For example, the Board has applied waiver (prior to the Federal Circuit’s determination that tribal immunity did not apply to the PTAB). Thus, equitable defenses that do not conflict with the AIA statutes may be leveraged.

One equitable defense that could become more prominent going forward —given the alignment of claim construction standards between the PTAB and courts— is judicial estoppel.

Continue Reading Equitable Defenses at the PTAB

Final Rule Publishes Tomorrow

As predicted last week, the final rule package to switch the to the Phillips claim construction for AIA trial proceedings at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) will publish Thursday. (advanced copy here). The change will apply to inter partes review (IPR), post-grant review (PGR), and the transitional program for covered business method patents (CBM) proceedings before the PTAB.

The final rule replaces the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard with the federal court claim construction standard that is used to construe a claim in a civil action under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b). This is the same claim construction standard articulated in Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc), and its progeny. Additionally, under the final rule, when construing a claim term in an IPR, PGR, or CBM, the PTAB will take into consideration any prior claim construction determination that has been made in a civil action, or a proceeding before the International Trade Commission (ITC), if that prior claim construction is timely made of record in that IPR, PGR, or CBM.  The weight accorded to such determinations will vary depending upon circumstances.

The final rule will not be retroactively applied and instead will apply only to IPR, PGR, and CBM petitions filed on or after the effective date of the final rule, which is Nov. 13th, 2018.

Phillips Claim Construction Rule Imminent

Back in May, the USPTO issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to switch from the Broadest Reasonable Interpretation (BRI) standard to a Phillips claim construction for AIA Trial Proceedings (here).  Thereafter the agency collected comments from the public, most of which favored the change, and submitted the issue to the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for final regulatory approval. On Wednesday October 3rd the regulatory approval was given by OMB’s Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  Thus, the USPTO may now publish a Final Rule Package to make the proposed switch to Phillips.

The Final Rule Package, which I expect will publish in the Federal Register next week does not take effect immediately. Rather, there will be an effective date 30-60 days after the date of publishing. Assuming publication next week, that would provide an effective date as early as the first full week of November, or as late as December. (There have been discussions that this change would be retroactive, but that is not my expectation. Too much re-work for existing proceedings, and on the heels of SAS, I just don’t see it.)  I expect that any petition filed on or after the effective date will be subject to the Phillips standard.

As I have pointed out previously, while I don’t expect this change will impact trials in a significant regard, it will impact filing strategies. That is, there will be an avalanche of petitions coming into the PTAB before the effective date. Continue Reading PTAB Rule Package Dropping BRI Clears Final Hurdle

Change in Claim Construction Standard Provides Greater Appellate Opportunity

Some months back the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) proposed dropping the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) in favor of the so-called “Phillips construction” of the courts. That final rule package, while expected to have been issued by now, is hung up in the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for regulatory review. (While described in the proposed rule as a change that was not deemed “significant,” should OMB disagree, the final rules will be delayed until the necessary regulatory hoops can be navigated).  Nevertheless, whether in 2018 or 2019, it is clear that the agency intends to move PTAB trial proceedings away from BRI to the Phillips standard.

While this change may not move the needle very much for PTAB trials, it should provide enhanced appellate opportunity. Continue Reading What a Phillips Construction Could Mean for PTAB Appeals

Informative Decision Led to Confusion

Last month the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) designated Ex Parte Jung 2016-008290, “informative.” An informative decision is one that expresses the “Board’s general consensus on recurring issues and guidance to examiners, appellants, patent owners, or petitioners in areas where parties routinely misapply the law.”

In Jung, the Board construed the claim terminology “at least one of A and B” to be conjunctive. That is, this language was determined to be properly construed (following the Federal Circuit precedent of SuperGuide Corp. v. DirecTV Enters., Inc.), as “at least one of A and at least one of B.”  However, the Board also noted that a patent’s claims, specification, or prosecution history may necessitate a broader meaning. Thus, in some scenarios, “at least one of A and B” is properly construed in the disjunctive as “at least one of A or B.”

Since being designated informative, however, Jung seems to have created confusion on whether or not the PTAB was making new law. Continue Reading PTAB De-Designates Ex Parte Jung as Informative Decision

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?