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

SAS No Help to Patent Owners

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute there has been much speculation over its practical impact on stakeholders. That is, does SAS favor petitioners or patent owners? I’ve participated in a number of CLE panels on this topic and have been shocked by those interpreting SAS as somehow beneficial to Patent Owners.

Make no mistake about it, SAS hurts Patent Owners…bigly. Continue Reading What Happens to PTAB Institution Rates Post-SAS?

Pending Cases to Revisit Pruned Claims/Grounds

Today the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) issued guidance on the impact of SAS on AIA trial proceedings. The guidance explains that:

[F]or pending trials in which a panel has
instituted trial only on some of the challenges raised in the petition (as opposed to all challenges raised in the petition), the panel may issue an order supplementing the institution decision to institute on all challenges raised in the petition. … ¶ [F]or pending trials . . . the panel may take further action to manage the trial proceeding, including, for example, permitting additional time, briefing, discovery, and/or oral argument, depending on various circumstances and the stage of the proceeding.

You can find the full guidance (here)

Special PatentsPostGrant.Com Webinar Next Tuesday

In addition to the already scheduled webinar next Wednesday on Bio/Pharma Deals & Dispute Resolution in the PTAB Era, a special webinar entitled: Supreme Court Debrief: Oil States & SAS Institute:The Aftermath will be held on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 @ 1-2PM (EST) Register (here)

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued opinions in both the Oil States and SAS Institute appeals. These opinions will have an immediate impact on proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), pending PTAB appeals to the Federal Circuit, and patent litigation strategies. The webinar will identify key takeaways from these opinions, and offer insights and discuss possible practice changes that will occur in the weeks/months ahead. Ropes & Gray speakers will be PTAB practice chair Scott McKeown, Appellate and Supreme Court practice chair Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, and patent litigator Matthew Rizzolo.

Patent Owners Will Not Like the Post-SAS PTAB

Last month, I predicted a 7-2 affirmance of Oil States (although I had Kennedy in the dissent with Gorsuch rather than Roberts). Still, the outcome of this closely watched case was hardly a surprise, nor was the content of the dissent. (here) While some will read the “narrow” holding characterization of the Oil States majority as a beacon of hope for further constitutional challenges, I don’t see that at all. Rather, I see the Court making clear that it is not indirectly endorsing any PTAB practices highlighted in the briefing, oral argument, and in the dissent — panel stacking perhaps being the most noteworthy. Going forward, I don’t see much Oil States impact at the PTAB.

SAS Institute on the other hand, will bring about some of the most significant PTAB practice changes to date. Continue Reading How the SAS Institute Ruling Will Impact PTAB Practice

Expanded Does Not Equal “Stacking”

As I explained previously, an expanded panel at the PTAB is an exceedingly rare occurrence.  But, as the Federal Circuit made clear in Nidec Motor Corp. v. Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co.(here), on at least one occasion, PTAB panel expansion was utilized to drive uniformity on an inconsistently decided question of law (issue joinder). That is, an expanded panel was utilized to change the underlying decision in an issue joinder dispute.  PTAB critics were quick to latch onto this “panel stacking” as evidence of an anti-patent bias. This criticism was even echoed by the Supreme Court during the Oil States argument.

Since that time, the Board has continued to utilize expanded panels on issues of importance without changing the underlying result.  However, the recent panel stacking notoriety continues to haunt all expanded panel decisions.

Dispelling this perception, the Chief Judge clarified the purpose and framework of expanded panels during yesterday’s quarterly meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC). Continue Reading PTAB Explains Expanded Panel Rationales

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

Best Practices for Presenting Prior Art

Join the PTAB for the final Boardside Chat webinar of 2017 today, Dec. 7 from noon-1 p.m. ET. The chat will discuss “Best Practices for Presenting Prior Art References and Proving a Document is a Printed Publication.”

PTAB Judges Lora Green and Brian McNamara will present and address audience questions. This topic is relevant to both ex parte appeal and AIA trial proceedings. The webinar is free and open to everyone. (view 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

PTAB Expanded Panels Impact Less Than 1% of All AIA Trials

Last week the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued its decision in Nidec Motor Corp. v. Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co. (here)  The decision affirmed the USPTO’s Patent Trial & Appeal Board cancellation of certain claims of Nidec’s U.S. patent 7,626,349 (IPR2014-01121 & IPR2015-00762). In this regard, the opinion was rather unremarkable. Of particular interest to PTAB critics, however, was the Court’s discussion of the Board’s expanded panel practices in its concurring opinion.

Although conceding it had no impact on the outcome of the case, the concurrence took issue with the Board’s expansion of a rehearing panel for the stated purpose of reversing the earlier decision.  That is, in order to consistently treat questions of issue joinder under 35 U.S.C. § 315(c), the PTAB expanded a panel to include judges that had ruled differently on the same question of statutory interpretation. As a result, the expanded panel reversed the earlier decision and found issue joinder to be embraced by 315(c). The Federal Circuit signaled a strong distaste of such agency practices.

Critics were quick to lambaste the PTAB’s expanded panel process in Nidec as evidence of a crooked process and an anti-patent bias.  Of course, anyone that has followed this blog knows that to be false. Continue Reading PTAB Expanded Panels: Fact Check