Previously Exercised Discretion Eliminated by SAS

While most remember the Cuozzo appeal as challenging the Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s (PTAB) claim construction practices, it also challenged the Board’s discretion to institute claims on grounds not presented in the IPR petition. But, the High Court deemed this issue unreachable given the appeal bar of 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). Still, the Federal Circuit has expressly endorsed the Board’s ability to modify the grounds presented in trial petitions.

Today, the Federal Circuit has made clear in Sirona Dental SystemsGMBH v. Institut Straumann AG (precedential) that the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute eliminates any ability of the Board to modify a petitioner’s trial grounds. Continue Reading CAFC: PTAB Must Not Reformulate Petition Grounds

WiFi One Touchstone: Closely Related to Patentability Determination?

As I predicted would happen last Spring, the Court held today in Wi-Fi One v. Broadcom (here) that the appeal bar is limited to Director determinations closely related to the preliminary patentability determination, or the exercise of discretion not to institute. As such, questions that may be fully and finally decided before a trial on the merits, such as 315(b), are no longer barred from appeal. Continue Reading CAFC Softens PTAB Appeal Bar

The Tension Between Judicial Independence & Agency Consistency

As I have pointed out previously, the Board struggles to issue precedential decisions. This is because the Board (now approaching 300 judges) must reach a “sufficient majority” consensus on an issue before designating it precedential. As a practical matter, this outdated process excludes all but the most straight forward questions of law from receiving enough “yes” votes to be designated precedential.

To be sure, such disparity in opinion across a large number of judges is not surprising on close questions of law. Reasonable minds differ. Which is why it is somewhat surprising that 98% of PTAB merit-based decisions are unanimous. Continue Reading Judicial Independence & The PTAB

Tribal Immunity in Focus at 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. Recent amicus filings supporting the petitioner echo that sentiment.

In response to the PTAB Order earlier this month authorizing amicus briefing, input from a number of organizations has been received.  The complete set is linked below.

Amicus Curiae Brief of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of the Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of Scholars (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of Askeladden LLC (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of Deva Holding A.S. (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of the High Tech Inventors Alliance (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of the Seneca Nation (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of the NAIPEC (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of U.S. Inventor, LLC (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of the SIIA (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of The National Congress of American Indians et al.(here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of Luis Ortiz and Kermit Lopez (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of The Association for Accessible Medicines (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of The BSA | The Software Alliance (here)

Amicus Curiae Brief of James R. Major (here)

No Duty to Discuss Closest Prior Art…But you Probably Should Anyway

In implementing the Federal Circuit’s In Re Aqua Products’ holding, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) explains that “practice and procedure before the Board will not change.” And that, “[t]he Board will continue its current briefing practice as to the types, timing, and page limits of briefs.”

As pointed out previously, removing the burden from the Patent Owner Motion to Amend will aid the PTAB in granting far more motions, but ultimately, amendments are not expected to be any more attractive, or common. Continue Reading PTAB: Practice & Procedure Unchanged after Aqua Products

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

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