Supplemental Examination

Estoppel Reasonably Could Have Raised During Trial?

The challenge to the IPR estoppel statute in Apple et al., v. California Institute of Technology focused on the statute’s use of “during.” That is, whether “reasonably could have raised” is assessed at the time the petition is drafted, or, during the actual proceeding as stated in the statute.

While the Court passed on the question today, its reasoning could be in conflict with contrary Federal Circuit precedent.Continue Reading SCOTUS Passes on Scope of IPR Estoppel – Joinder Scope Remains Uncertain

Thursday Webinar Addresses Parallel Post-Grant Proceedings

This Thursday, April 25th, from noon to 1 p.m. ET, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) will host a Boardside Chat webinar presenting information on the interplay of AIA trial proceedings under the America Invents Act (AIA), reissue applications, and reexamination proceedings.

CRU Faster Than Before AIA, Provides Options for Patent Owners

Patent reexamination filings have fallen 86% since 2012.  With the elimination of the popular inter partes patent reexamination option in 2012, an overall decrease was certainly expected.  However, ex parte reexamination filings continue to drop every year.  Only 191 ex parte reexamination requests were filed in 2017.  This was the lowest number of ex parte reexamination filings since the mid-1990s.  While an ex parte patent challenge is far less appealing to a patent challenger than a contested proceeding (AIA trial proceeding), and this factor has undoubtedly contributed to the decreasing numbers, patent reexamination and other post-grant proceedings of the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) still provide unique rehabilitation opportunities for patent owners.Continue Reading Thwart PTAB Attacks With These USPTO Post-Grant Options

No-Cause Extensions Available for Patent Owner/Director Initiated Post Grant Patent Proceedings

Tucked away in last week’s Federal Register Notice is a significant change to patent reexamination/supplemental examination procedures at the USPTO. Currently, any extension of time sought in an ex parte patent reexamination (the only type of patent reexamination still in existence) requires a show

Preemptive Filing May Provide More Patentee Flexibilty in Amending

Prior to the AIA, some patentees would preemptively challenge their own patents in an ex parte reexamination proceeding in the hopes of staving off an imminent inter partes reexamination challenge. The thinking was that since the challenge was inevitable, it made more sense to choose the ex parte proceeding as statistically more favorable to patentees.  In essence the patent owner would rush in with art identified by an opponent so that a later presentation of the same art by the opponent in an inter partes reexamination filing would be deemed cumulative— and in some cases it worked. 

For patentees facing the imminent threat of a new AIA filing (IPR, PGR, or CBM) is this tactic still effective?
Continue Reading Patentee Tactic for Looming PTAB Patent Challenges

Robust Filings Reported for Some AIA Proceedings

Late last week, the USPTO issued a Final Rule to implement the Technical Amendment to the America Invents Act (AIA). The Notice essentially revises 37 C.F.R. § 42.102 to eliminate the “dead zone” for certain first inventor to file patents. You can find the straight forward rule notice (here) The rule became effective yesterday, March 25th.

In other news, the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) convened on March 15th at the USPTO Alexandria campus. During the meeting, the USPTO reported on the progress of AIA filings to date. There continues to be robust demand for Inter Partes Review (IPR), but others of the new AIA mechanisms have not proven nearly as popular as originally thought.
Continue Reading Post Grant Buzz – Spring 2013

Tepid Demand for New Proceeding

Supplemental Examination (SE) is a new mechanism of the AIA designed to effectively cure inequitable conduct via a new post grant proceeding of the USPTO. The new mechanism went into effect on September 16, 2012 along with the other major post grant provisions.

As reported by Patently-O last week, only a handfulof SE filings have been submitted to date, far fewer than expected by some.

In operation, SE allows a Patentee to submit very detailed explanations of potential issues that may render the patent invalid under an inequitable conduct theory. Upon submission of Substantial New Questions of Patentability (SNQs) detailing such potential defects, the Office will reconsider the information; that is to say the Office will perform a “supplemental examination.” Once such issues are considered and dispatched by an SE certificate, the subject patent would be free of inequitable conduct charges based on the issues considered in the SE. On the other hand, should the materials presented raise an SNQ, a form of patent reexamination is conducted (differing from typical practices in that it is not be limited to patents and printed publications).

Sounds like a great idea….and it was, prior to Therasense.

Continue Reading Supplemental Examination….Who Needs It?

Proposal Apportions Post Grant Patent Trial Fees Into Petition & Trial Phases

As I predicted in early August, the USPTO has announced a proposal to apportion the filing fees for the new post grant proceedings of the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) across petition and trial phases; primarily as a mechanism to facilitate refunds. A portion of the proposed fees would correspond to the cost of considering the petition filing, the second portion would correspond to the cost of conducting the trial. This proposed fee structure is set pursuant to Section 10 of the America Invents Act (AIA), and provides revised fees not only for the new post grant patent proceedings, but also for ex parte application prosecution as well. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday. (advanced reading room copy here)

Aside from the post grant fee apportionment (discussed in detail below, which actually provides a slight fee reduction), notable fee increases include a change to the RCE filing fee for ex parte prosecution. The RCE fee based upon the number of previously filed RCEs. For example, the cost of an RCE moves from the current $930 for large entitites to $1200 for the first RCE, and $1700 for the second and subsequent RCEs. You may recall that initially the USPTO was seeking a change to $1700 for all such filings. The Office has now recognized that since 70% of applicants file at least one RCE, it seems some modest additional time is required to resolve most issues, hence the difference in pricing between the first and second RCE filing.

As to fee decreases, the following are noteworthy:

Continue Reading USPTO Proposes Revising Fees for Post Grant Patent Proceedings

Reduction in Incoming Requests & Inter Partes Workload to Free Up Resources

Much attention has been given to the contested proceedings of the newly formed Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) since enactment of the America Invents Act (AIA) last fall. Starting in September of 2012, these new patentability trials (Post Grant Review (PGR), Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents (TPCBMP) and Inter Partes Review (IPR)) will become available, and must conclude by statute within 12-18 months of initiation. The pendency of the new trial proceedings is a significant improvement relative to existing patent reexamination and is expected to be a significant driver behind filings concurrent with litigation.

As a result of the new options for contested proceedings, the law eliminates inter partes patent reexamination. So, going forward, the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) will lose a significant, resource intensive stream of work. While it is true that the CRU will remain responsible for legacy inter partes reexamination filings, the 100+ examiners will necessarily have extra time on their hands post-AIA.

Absent a replacement stream of work, the remaining stream, ex parte patent reexamination filings, may benefit from the newly available bandwidth.
Continue Reading Enhanced Patent Reexamination Speed Coming Soon?

Item of Information Limit Accounts for Practical Realities

Supplemental Examination (SE) is a mechanism of the AIA that is designed to effectively cure inequitable conduct via a new post grant proceeding of the USPTO. This mechanism, effective September 16, 2012 will be available to all issued patents.

In operation, SE allows a Patentee to submit very detailed explanations of potential issues that may render the patent invalid under an inequitable conduct theory. Upon submission of Substantial New Questions of patentability (SNQs) detailing such potential defects, the Office will reconsider or correct such information; that is to say the Office will perform a “supplemental examination.” Once such issues are considered, any patent issuing as a result of the SE would be free of inequitable conduct charges based on the same issues considered in the SE.

In the proposed rules to implement SE, the USPTO has limited the number of “items of information” for presenting a SNQ to 10. Public comments directed to this implementation detail have been largely negative.

A few days back, the Director more or less made clear that this limitation will remain in the Final rules.
Continue Reading USPTO Justifies Supplemental Examination Guidelines