Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) 9 Released

As discussed last week, a remand to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) may be a short-lived victory for Patent Owners.

The PTAB has now officially revised the “Standard Operating Procedure 9 (SOP9)” directed to default procedures for cases remanded from the Federal Circuit.

Some highlights:

  • PTAB has set a goal of issuing remand decisions within 6 months of the Federal Circuit’s mandate.
  • Panels will now meet with the Chief, Deputy Chief, or their delegates (i.e., one of the Vice Chief Judges) to discuss the remanded case and issues presented therein.
  • PTAB has set forth default procedures for trials and appeals regarding whether further briefing, evidence, or oral hearings are warranted in individual case and whether prosecution will be reopened.

For more details, please read the revised SOP 9 (here).

Long Delayed Fee Increase Hits January 16th

Section 10 of the Leahy‐Smith America Invents Act (AIA) authorizes the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to, in part, “set or adjust by rule any fee established, authorized, or charged” under Title 35 of the United States Code. At the close of 2016, a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) issued requesting comments from the public on proposed fee increases for post-grant patent proceedings, including AIA trials. A Final Rule Notice issued today setting significant increases to take effect on January 16th 2018 for AIA Trial Proceedings. Continue Reading PTAB Trial Fees Set to Increase in January

Remand or Reversal?

Appeals from the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) have now become a major component of the Federal Circuit’s docket. Given the deferential “substantial evidence” standard accorded PTAB decisions, upward of 60% of such appeals are simply affirmed — many without further comment. The remainder of PTAB appeals  include a mixed bag of partial affirmances, reversal and/or remands. While both reversal and remand outcomes are appellate “wins” for Patent Owners, a remand for a Patent Owner is often a winning of the Federal Circuit appeal battle only to lose the PTAB war. Continue Reading PTAB Revisited: Avoiding Federal Circuit Remands

Tribal Immunity Considered by PTAB

Previously I explained that the 7th amendment argument in Oil States and the 11th amendment argument for sovereign immunity from the PTAB are both tied to the same basic, threshold premise — IPR is a trial proceeding akin to an Article III lawsuit. This premise has been criticized by the Supreme Court in In re Cuozzo Speed Technologies, and, more recently by the Federal Circuit in Ultratec, Inc. v. Captioncall, LLC, 2017, (Fed. Cir. Aug. 28, 2017). For this reason, sovereign immunity (including tribal immunity) is likely to fall with the Oil States challenge.

Until such time, however, the PTAB must address the issue in the ongoing IPRs of Allergan’s Restasis® patents. In doing so, the PTAB has now issued an Order inviting amicus briefing, setting a submission deadline of December 1, 2017. Continue Reading PTAB Invites Amicus Input on Sovereign Immunity Dispute

Special PatentsPostGrant.com Webinar 11/28

On Monday, November 27th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in both the Oil States and SAS Institute appeals. Both cases have the potential to have a significant impact on proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and, potentially, the entire U.S. patent system.

The day after, November 28th, PatentsPostGrant.com will host a free webinar to debrief the oral arguments, and offer insights on the possible practice changes stemming from the forthcoming decisions. (Speakers: Scott McKeown, Douglas Hallward-Driemeier and Matthew Rizzolo)

The formal portion of the webinar will begin at 1:30 (EST) and will last for approximately 50-60 minutes. After the presentation there will be a Q&A period. To attend the webinar please sign up (here). You will receive a registration confirmation email immediately. Two hours prior to the webinar you’ll receive another email with a link and instructions for joining the presentation.

CLE credit is provided (CA, NYC, VA only).

Expanded Panel Decision Voted Precedential

On the heels of the recent issuance of an expanded panel decision in General Plastic Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, Case IPR2016-01357 (PTAB Sept. 6, 2017) (Paper 19), Section II.B.4.i.(here), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has now designated this decision precedential.  Continue Reading PTAB’s New Precedential Guidance on Follow-on AIA Petitions

Aqua Products Decision Deemed “Good Cause”

Earlier this month the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) determined, for the first time, that good cause existed to extend a trial beyond the mandated 12 months of 35 U.S.C. § 316(a)(11). While the Board has had trials extend beyond 12 months in cases of joinder — an existing exception to its 12 month mandate — this is the first time that the USPTO Director exercised his discretion to extend a trial schedule for “good cause.” Continue Reading First AIA Trial Extended Beyond 12 Months for Good Cause

SAS Institute To Send Patent Owners Screaming Into the Night?

The Supreme Court will get a heavy dose of the PTAB on November 27th. That is the day the High Court will hear oral arguments in both the Oil States and SAS Institute appeals. While almost all of the focus to date has been on Oil States, the case that is likely to have the biggest impact on the PTAB is SAS.

As a reminder, SAS argues that partial PTAB trial institutions are inconsistent with the controlling statutes of the America Invents Act (AIA).  That is, if the PTAB finds that at least one claim is demonstrated as reasonably likely to be proven (RLP) unpatentable, the PTAB should institute an IPR trial for all petitioned claims. As of today, if a petitioner challenges, say claims 1-10 of a patent, the PTAB assesses each claim as to the RLP standard.  So, if the PTAB is not satisfied as to claims 5-6 of claims 1-10, trial would only go forward on claims 1-4 and 7-10.

If SAS is successful on appeal, PTAB trials would go forward on all claims as long as a single claim of the petition was deemed to meet the RLP standard. This would be a significant change to PTAB trial practice with unfortunate consequences for Patent Owners. Continue Reading SAS Institute & The PTAB: Be Afraid Patent Owners

Aqua Products: A Gift to the PTAB

Yesterday I explained why In re Aqua Products would not result in PTAB Motions to Amend being any more attractive or ultimately successful. This is because Motions to Amend are rarely advisable in litigation scenarios given intervening rights. And even where viable, such infringement-inspired amendments are almost always too incremental in nature to distinguish over the art. That said, Aqua Products is an absolute game changer for the agency itself.

With the burden of patentability now offloaded from the Motion to Amend, such motions can now be entered (i.e., granted) before reaching the ultimate question of whether or not the amended claim is actually patentable. As upward of 60% of pre-Aqua motions failed on patentability grounds, one can expect that the grant rate of such motions to now exceed 60%.

For this reason, Aqua Products is manna from heaven for the agency. Continue Reading Aqua Products Hoists PTAB Critics by Their Own Petard

Oil States/CAFC to Unravel “Litigation” Premise

Sovereign immunity from proceedings of the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has become inextricably linked with the Oil States debate now before the Supreme Court. That is, the 7th amendment argument in Oil States and the 11th amendment argument for sovereign immunity at the PTAB are both tied to the same basic, threshold premise — IPR is a trial proceeding akin to an Article III lawsuit.

In Oil States, the “trial argument” is made to distinguish IPR proceedings from patent reexamination. It is argued that because an IPR is more trial-like compared to the earlier, examination based system, a jury trial is now required, consistent with the 7th Amendment.

In the sovereign immunity context, immunity applies if an administrative proceeding is similar to civil litigation. Fed. Mar. Comm’n v. S.C. State Ports Auth., 535 U.S. 743 (2002). But, some judges of the CAFC have already signaled a willingness to unravel this “IPR is a trial” premise, and it is my expectation that Oil States will follow suit. Continue Reading Sovereign Immunity at the PTAB a Temporary Phenomena?