Inter Partes Reexamination

Failed PTAB Bill Reemerges For a 6th Time

Yesterday, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.),Thom Tillis(R-N.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the Promoting and Respecting Economically Vital American Innovation Leadership (PREVAIL) Act (here). Also yesterday, some of the very same senators introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2023

The co-introduction of these bills suggests a plan to drive compromise on patent eligibility.Continue Reading New PTAB Bill to Drive 101 Compromise?

October Webinar to Debrief on Leahy Bill

Senator Patrick Leahy (D) VT and Senator John Cornyn (R) TX have jointly drafted a new bill entitled the “Restoring the America Invents Act.” The Bill proposes to roll-back recent directives and policies of former USPTO Director Iancu, most notably discretionary denials of AIA trial proceedings in view

Inconsistency Across Related Cases is Precluded

When challenging related patents at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB), it is not uncommon to present similar grounds of unpatentability across related filings— for example, where the claim sets are substantially similar.  In such scenarios, it is expected that the PTAB will arrive at consistent determinations across the filings. Of course, there is no guarantee, that the same judge will decide all of the cases.  In such instances, there is a possibility of inconsistent results, especially where the challenges are advanced at different times.

For example, party A might challenge a parent patent in an IPR, and lose on a question of obvious under 103.  When a continuation patent issues a bit later, Party A may attempt to challenge the continuation on the same grounds (perhaps bolstered by a better presentation or additional evidence).  In such a scenario, is the Board free to change its mind?  Or is the Board collaterally estopped given the earlier determination, and the same party pursuing the same argument?Continue Reading Collateral Estoppel in AIA Trial Proceedings

Invalidity Counterclaims-In-Reply Will Not Trigger 35 U.S.C. § 315(a)

Congress created IPR to provide a “quick and cost effective alternative[ ] to litigation.”  To fulfill that role, Congress limited a party’s ability to seek an IPR after commencement of civil litigation in two ways: (1) under § 315(a), no IPR may be instituted if the challenger filed a civil action challenging the validity of a patent claim before filing the IPR petition, and (2) under § 315(b), an IPR may not be instituted on any petition filed more than one year after the petitioner (or a real party in interest or privy) was served with a patent infringement complaint.  These provisions are designed to control PTAB filings concurrent with civil complaints.

In a recent decision, the Northern District of California lamented that the statutory provisions permit a counterclaim of invalidity in a Reply. 315(a)(3). The Court interpreted such a counterclaim to be a “loophole.”
Continue Reading Declaratory Judgement Loophole at PTAB?

PTAB Precedent (Not Surprisingly) Embraces CAFC Precedent

As I pointed out last week, it is a heavy lift for the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) to designate a precedential decision.  For this reason, nothing but the most straightforward of issues can be decided and designated “precedential.”

The PTAB issued a prime example of a seemingly straightforward precedential decision a few days ago in Ex parte McAward, Appeal 2015-006416 (PTAB Aug. 25, 2017), Section I.B. (here). This PTAB precedent makes clear that the USPTO assesses indefiniteness pursuant to the Federal Circuit’s guidance in In re Packard, 751 F.3d 1307, 1310 (Fed. Cir. 2014).

While some have expressed shock at the PTAB pronouncing a different standard than that expressed in Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2120 (2014), this is just a restatement of the Board’s status quo since the Packard decision. (It is not exactly shocking that the Board is following the guidance of its reviewing court).

The more interesting issue is whether the Court’s reasoning in Packard is equally applicable to AIA trial proceedings?
Continue Reading New PTAB Precedent Endorses In re Packard….But For How Long?

Article III Standing for PTAB Appeals Once Again Revisited by Federal Circuit

Last month, the Federal Circuit made clear that Article III standing is necessary for petitioners to appeal from adverse decisions in AIA trial proceedings in Phigenix, Inc. v. ImmunoGen, Inc. (here)  The Phigenix decision follows an earlier decisionConsumer Watchdog v. Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Warf) finding the same Article III standing requirement for the now defunct inter partes patent reexamination. 

Yesterday, in PPG Industries, Inc., v. Valspar Sourcing, Inc., the Federal Circuit again addressed the issue of standing in appeals from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). At issue in these consolidated appeals was whether PPG Industries, Inc. (“PPG”) had standing to appeal the PTAB’s decisions in two inter partes reexaminations where the patent owner Valspar Sourcing, Inc. (“Valspar”) was the prevailing party. Showcased in this appeal is evidence deemed to satisfy Article III standing for an appeal from the PTAB.
Continue Reading Article III Standing Found for PTAB Appeal Where Threat of Suit

USPTO Releases Petition Timelines

The Office of Petitions has launched a new USPTO Patents Petitions Timeline that provides information on petition types that can be filed throughout each stage of the patent prosecution, and reexamination process. For each petition type, users can easily access information on average pendency over the past 12 months of decided petitions, the deciding office, petition grant rates, and link to specific sections of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) or other parts of the USPTO website that relate to each petition type. (here)

Given the pro forma nature of many prosecution related petitions, of most interest are the more unusual filings, such as petitions to revive abandoned applications.

Of perhaps the greatest interest is the pendency information pertaining to petitions filed during patent reexamination. I have often referred to this practice as the “black arts” as such practice is fraught with uncertainty, and pendency can be quite significant.
Continue Reading Pendency Statistics on Petitions Filed During Patent Reexamination

CAFC Cites Inconsistencies in Reexamination Appeal Ruling

Back in June, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decided Q. I. Press Controls, B.V.,v. Quad/Tech, Inc. (here) The appeal stemmed from an inter partes reexamination of U.S. patent 6,867,423 (95/000,526). Of particular interest in the appeal from the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) was the allowance of claims 1-60 in view of the rejection of claims 61-72. That is the Board rejected claims 61-72 on a combination of references never applied to claims 1-60, but, the allowed claims (1-60) and rejected claims (61-72) only differed in minor respects.

On appeal, the requester raised this inconsistency with the CAFC and cried foul (despite never having raised the potential rejection formally for claims 1-60). In reversing the Board, the CAFC stated that the combination must be applied to claims 1-60 as a new rejection under 37 C.F.R. § 41.77(b). In doing so, the CAFC opinion could be interpreted to suggest that a new rejection under 41.77 was no longer discretionary, but mandatory.  

The PTO took issue with this aspect of the opinion. Earlier this month, the CAFC declined the PTO’s rehearing request directed to this concern.

Continue Reading CAFC Denies PTO Rehearing on New Rejection Discretion

USPTO Inter Partes Patent Challenge Statistics Remain Consistent

With two full years of Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings on the books, we now have an adequate sample of decisions—158 through 9/26/14. While most IPR decisions are still pending appeal, the results are consistent with earlier inter partes reexamination outcomes.

As of September 2013, 696 inter partes reexamination certificates had been issued. (Not even half of the 1919 such proceedings pursued over the thirteen year history of the now defunct, never ending, reexamination option). 
Continue Reading IPR Final Decisions Track Reexamination Outcomes