Unnecessarily Ambitious

Late last week the USPTO issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that floated numerous rule proposals and requests for feedback — too numerous. Proposals addressing current 314(a) and 325(d) practices were not only expected, but long overdue. While these expected proposals were included in the sprawling Notice, the rule-making process will undoubtedly be bogged down by the remaining collection of controversial ideas and administrative over-reach.

Keep in mind that 314(a) Fintiv practices could soon be struck down as improper circumvention of APA rule-making. Stalling the issuance of those rules for at least another 12-18 months – if not longer – seems like a bad idea. My guess is political pressure from outside the agency led to the laundry list of additional proposals. Especially as they relate to for-profit entities in the wake of the Open Sky debacle.

Regardless, of how or why the expansive ANPRM came to be, I’ll walk through each proposal/idea in detail below (ANPRM here)Continue Reading PTAB Rule Ideas – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

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

Are Two Heads Better than One?

When faced with parallel PTAB and District Court/ITC proceedings, both patent owners and petitioners alike must decide whether to use the same expert in each proceeding, or hire a dedicated expert for each. Certainly there is much efficiency to be gained using the same person — not to mention the seeming likelihood of greater consistency in opinion.

But it is preferable, in my view, to use separate experts. This often limits document inventory for the PTAB deposition, and opposing counsel is less inclined to extend the deposition with questions that are designed to illicit fodder for the litigation effort. Likewise, use of separate experts does not give litigation counsel extra “shots” at the same witness.  Also, with the PTAB now applying the same Philips claim construction of the district court, as discussed previously, there is also an increased interest in claim construction related testimony should the PTAB proceeding fail.

Recently, the District of Delaware considered whether a litigation expert should have to divulge any consulting (non-testifying) work with respect to an earlier PTAB proceeding.Continue Reading Using the Same Expert at the PTAB & District Court?

Non-precedential Decision Faults Long-Standing PTAB Practice

Securing additional IPR discovery at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board is a challenge. This is because, such discovery is not accorded as a matter of right, but in the interests of justice. And, frequently, such requests are speculative attempts to add unnecessary complexity to an otherwise streamlined proceeding.

Often times, the Board simply denies requests to authorize a motion on additional discovery via teleconference. That is, the call to receive authorization to file the motion also functions as a hearing of sorts on the merits of the requested motion.

Earlier this week, the Federal Circuit faulted the Board’s practice of denying motion practice in this manner, holding that parties have a right to file motions.
Continue Reading Discovery Motion Practice to Become More Commonplace at PTAB

New Precedent Clarifies Previous Uncertainty

Discussing testimony with a witness during a PTAB deposition is a “no-no”….kinda. The Trial Practice Guide (Appendix D) makes clear that counsel may not confer with its witness while under cross-examination. Panels have issued conflicting decisions on whether that prohibition extends to redirect testimony occurring after cross-examination is complete.

In a precedential designation today of a 2014 case, Focal Therapeutics, Inc. v. SenoRx, Inc., Case IPR2014-00116 (PTAB July 21, 2014) (Paper 19), the Board settled that question.
Continue Reading Conferring With Your Witness Prior to PTAB Redirect?

Mere Existence of JDG Found to be Enough

It can be an uphill battle to secure additional discovery at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) given the “interests of justice” standard of IPR proceedings. For this reason, Patent Owners seeking discovery on petitioner relationships — to discover unnamed parties in RPI/privity disputes — are frequently turned away absent “smoking gun” evidence of such a relationship.

However, a recent decision of the Board appears to take a far more liberal view of multi-defendant relationships where a Joint Defense Group (JDG) is known to exist.
Continue Reading PTAB Discovery of JDG Agreements

Federal Circuit Finds PTAB Discovery Determinations One-Sided

On the heels of Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corporation, the Federal Circuit once again finds itself considering a PTAB RPI/Privity dispute. In RPX, the Court held that “determining whether a non-party is a “real party in interest” demands a flexible approach that takes into account both equitable and practical considerations, with an eye toward determining whether the non-party is a clear beneficiary that has a preexisting, established relationship with the petitioner.” That is, the inquiry is fact-dependent, and not limited to one party controlling the other as some PTAB decisions seemed to suggest.

Last week, the Court examined the allocation of burdens in such disputes in Worlds Inc. v. Bungie, Inc., finding that the PTAB may be improperly shifting the burden to Patent Owners in RPI/Privity discovery disputes.
Continue Reading Burden Clarification To Expand PTAB Discovery for RPI/Privity Disputes?

Bar to Appealing 315(b) Disputes Likely to be Overruled

Back in November, the Federal Circuit issued a non-precedential decision in the Click-To-Call Techs. v. Oracle Corp., which openly questioned the continued viability of Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., 803 F.3d 652 (Fed. Cir. 2015) post-Cuozzo.  As a reminder, Achates held that issues arising under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) (i.e,, IPR one year, time bar) could not be appealed to the CAFC, pursuant to 314(d).  

Today, in Wi-Fi One LLC v. Broadcom (here), the Court granted en banc review of the IPR appeal bar.

Continue Reading CAFC Grants En Banc Review of IPR Appeal Bar

PTAB Moves to Establish More Precedential Decisions

Yesterday, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) announced the designation of five, additional precedential decisions.

Garmin Int’l v. Cuozzo Speed Techs LLC, IPR2012-00001, Paper 26 (Mar. 5, 2013) – This order discusses the factors considered in evaluating motions for additional discovery in IPR proceedings. Previously designated as informative, this decision has been treated as de facto precedent for quite some time.

Bloomberg, Inc. v. Markets-Alert Pty, Ltd., CBM2013-00005, Paper 32 (May 29, 2013) – This order discusses the factors considered in evaluating motions for additional discovery in CBM proceedings. (Garmin for CBMs)

Oracle Corp. v. Click-to-Call Techs, LP, IPR2013-00312, Paper 26 (October 30, 2013) (precedential only as to Section III.A.) – This decision pertains to interpretation of “served with a complaint” for purposes of triggering the one-year time bar set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 315(b).  More specifically, this decision stands for the proposition that a dismissal of a prior law suit “without prejudice” prevents that suit from triggering the time bar of 315(b).  This has also been de facto precedent at the PTAB.
Continue Reading PTAB Designates Five Precedential Decisions

CAFC Finds Board Has Power to Vacate Institution Decision Sua Sponte

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) posed the following question to the public last summer in its Request for Comments:
Real Party in Interest:
5. Should a patent owner be able to raise a challenge regarding a real party in interest at any time during a trial?

Since last summer there have been a handful of IPR proceedings vacated on RPI grounds, post-institution. At the same time, the Board expresses a strong preference that motions for additional discovery on RPI be pursued as early as possible. So, while the Board has shown a willingness to vacate post-institution for improper RPI/privity designations, evidence for advancing such a deficiency (i.e., that the petitioner has failed to name a RPI/privy in its petition) is unlikely to come through PTAB discovery—for now.

This month the Board is expected to release a new rule package responsive to the feedback from last summer’s Request for Comments. The Rules are expected to provide some enhanced ability to secure additional discovery, especially as it relates to RPI.  Given the expectation of more liberal discovery on RPI in the month’s ahead, is RPI a matter of standing that might be raised at any time, even on appeal to the CAFC?

Continue Reading Is RPI/Privity an Issue of PTAB Standing?