Phillips Claim Construction Rule Imminent

Back in May, the USPTO issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to switch from the Broadest Reasonable Interpretation (BRI) standard to a Phillips claim construction for AIA Trial Proceedings (here).  Thereafter the agency collected comments from the public, most of which favored the change, and submitted the issue to the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for final regulatory approval. On Wednesday October 3rd the regulatory approval was given by OMB’s Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  Thus, the USPTO may now publish a Final Rule Package to make the proposed switch to Phillips.

The Final Rule Package, which I expect will publish in the Federal Register next week does not take effect immediately. Rather, there will be an effective date 30-60 days after the date of publishing. Assuming publication next week, that would provide an effective date as early as the first full week of November, or as late as December. (There have been discussions that this change would be retroactive, but that is not my expectation. Too much re-work for existing proceedings, and on the heels of SAS, I just don’t see it.)  I expect that any petition filed on or after the effective date will be subject to the Phillips standard.

As I have pointed out previously, while I don’t expect this change will impact trials in a significant regard, it will impact filing strategies. That is, there will be an avalanche of petitions coming into the PTAB before the effective date. Continue Reading PTAB Rule Package Dropping BRI Clears Final Hurdle

Upcoming Event in DC to Explore a Host of Hot Topic Issues

One of the more cutting edge CLE events of the year is IAM’s Patent Law & Policy. The program explores the overlap in changing legal and political climates, especially relevant in a year of mid-term elections.

The program drills down to the trends and changes across the patent landscape of the previous year, particularly the impact of political interests and stakeholder agendas as drivers of policy going forward under the Trump administration. This program has become a must event for anyone interested in patent law policy, legislation and rule-based initiatives.

This year’s keynote speaker is the leader of the House Judiciary and Rules Committee Rep Doug Collins (R-Ga).  The program also will include commentary from Senate Judiciary Committee staffers, as well as segments directed to SEP/FRAND issues, litigation changes, and of course, PTAB developments.

I hope to see you there.

Patent Law & Policy 2018 (register here)

Change in Claim Construction Standard Provides Greater Appellate Opportunity

Some months back the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) proposed dropping the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) in favor of the so-called “Phillips construction” of the courts. That final rule package, while expected to have been issued by now, is hung up in the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for regulatory review. (While described in the proposed rule as a change that was not deemed “significant,” should OMB disagree, the final rules will be delayed until the necessary regulatory hoops can be navigated).  Nevertheless, whether in 2018 or 2019, it is clear that the agency intends to move PTAB trial proceedings away from BRI to the Phillips standard.

While this change may not move the needle very much for PTAB trials, it should provide enhanced appellate opportunity. Continue Reading What a Phillips Construction Could Mean for PTAB Appeals

New SOPs Demystify Internal Practices & Consolidate PTAB Policy Control to Director

The PTAB has substantially revised its Standard Operating Procedures (“SOPs”) regarding paneling of matters before the PTAB (SOP1) and precedential and informative decisions (SOP2).

SOP1 largely explains existing internal processes relating to assignment/reassignment of judges in the interests of increasing transparency, predictability, and reliability across the USPTO. More specifically, revised SOP1 explains the procedures for panel assignment and for informing parties regarding panel changes. It also explains the process for designating panels with more than three judges, and notes that such panels should be rare and will only occur with the approval of the Director.(here)

Revised SOP2 is likely to draw the most interests as it creates a Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) that effectively moves the previous PTAB precedent setting power away from the judges to the domain of the agency executives.  Continue Reading PTO Director to Drive PTAB Precedent Going Forward

Rebutting the Presumption of Unreasonability

Given the complications associated with amending litigated claims, amendment is still relatively rare at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB).  Yet, there remain Patent Owners willing to amend claims in limited scenarios. For these Patent Owners, the Board has provided some helpful guidance post Aqua Products.  As a reminder, newly designated precedent Western Digital Corp. v. SPEX Techs., Inc has replaced now de-designated precedent/informative decisions of MasterImage 3D, Inc. v. RealD Inc.,Case IPR2015-00040 (PTAB July 15, 2015) (Paper 42) and Idle Free Sys., Inc. v. Bergstrom, Inc., Case IPR2012-00027 (June 11, 2013) (Paper 26).

However, Aqua Products did not overrule all aspects of these earlier decisions despite their de-designations. So, the question remains as to the continued viability of some of these earlier positions — such as the standard for assessing a “reasonable number” of substitute claims.

In a decision issued today, the Board emphasized that adding claims beyond a 1-1 substitution creates a presumption of unreasonability.  And, that rebutting that presumption may not necessarily require a showing of patentable distinctness between multiple substitutes, as previously explained in Idle Free. Continue Reading PTAB Debates Standard for Reasonable Number of Substitute Claims

Claimed Ranges Overlapping with Prior Art Shift Burden of Production to Patent Owner

Since the Federal Circuit’s decision in Magnum Oil, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has been mindful that the ultimate burden of persuasion must remain with the patent challenger. While this general rule guides most proceedings at the PTAB, as the Federal Circuit reminded the Board today, there are exceptions for the burden of production.

In E.I. Dupont De Nemours v. Synvina C.V. the Court considered whether a claimed range shown to be overlapping with that of the prior art creates a rebuttable presumption of obviousness. The Court reiterated that it did, and that once an overlap is shown by a Petitioner, it falls to the Patent Owner to come forward with appropriate rebuttal evidence. Continue Reading CAFC Explains PTAB Burden Shift for Claimed Ranges

PTAB Trials 2018 September 21st in NYC

PLI’s flagship PTAB Trials 2018 will be held next Friday September 21st in New York City.  If you can’t get to NYC in person, strongly consider the live webinar of this full-day event. (register here)  PLI’s comprehensive program is the longest running and most widely attended PTAB-related CLE in existence. Rather than just exploring PTAB trial practices, this program has become known for its holistic analysis of the PTAB and its impact on the patent system.  Noted speakers this year include former CAFC Chief Judge Paul Michel.

This year’s program also adds a unique segment dedicated to licensing and monetization strategies, Northeast Corridor: Bio/Pharma & the PTAB, as well as PTAB-centric patent prosecution practices. I am pleased to continue to chair this program alongside Robert Greene Sterne of the Sterne Kessler firm. 7.0 CLE credits are offered in most jurisdictions.

Hope to see you next week.

Stage of Litigation & Similarly Situated Litigants Now General Plastic Factors?

As I have mentioned on a few CLE panels as of late, the recent changes to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s (PTAB) Trial Practice Guide invite parties to suggest additional General Plastic factors.  These factors are applied by the Board to determine whether to exercise its discretion to deny institution under § 314(a) in applicable cases.  With the efficacy of 325(d) now muted after SAS (given it’s ground-by-ground based application), the potential “kill shot” offered by 314(a) has attracted more attention in recent Patent Owner Preliminary Responses.

With the new Trial Guide update barely a month old, the Board has already begun to expand its General Plastic factors. Two September decisions highlight the degree to which the Board may be more open to considering parallel litigation dynamics as additional factors. Continue Reading PTAB Expands Equitable Considerations to Deny AIA Trial Petitions

CAFC Guidance to Complicate Complex PTAB Litigation Scenarios?

As noted yesterday, the Federal Circuit has now issued two important decisions regarding RPI/Privity disputes before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB): Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corp., and last Friday’s Worlds Inc. v. Bungie, Inc. These cases may present new petitioner complications for joint defense group participants, those involved in indemnification scenarios, or those otherwise involved with parties of a patent dispute.

Please join me for an interactive webinar discussion of these changes next Wednesday, September 19th @1PM (EST). Register (here).  The webinar will identify key takeaways from these decisions and best practices going forward. My co-presenter for this webinar will be Mattew Rizzolo, litigation counsel in Ropes & Gray’s intellectual property litigation practice.

The formal portion of the webinar will begin at 1PM Eastern and will last for approximately 50-60 minutes. After the presentation there will be a Q&A period. To attend the free webinar please sign up via the link above. You will receive a registration confirmation email immediately. One hour prior to the webinar you’ll receive another email with a link and instructions for joining the presentation. CLE credit will be provided (CA, NYC, VA).

Federal Circuit Finds PTAB Discovery Determinations One-Sided

On the heels of Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corporation, the Federal Circuit once again finds itself considering a PTAB RPI/Privity dispute. In RPX, the Court held that “determining whether a non-party is a “real party in interest” demands a flexible approach that takes into account both equitable and practical considerations, with an eye toward determining whether the non-party is a clear beneficiary that has a preexisting, established relationship with the petitioner.” That is, the inquiry is fact-dependent, and not limited to one party controlling the other as some PTAB decisions seemed to suggest.

Last week, the Court examined the allocation of burdens in such disputes in Worlds Inc. v. Bungie, Inc., finding that the PTAB may be improperly shifting the burden to Patent Owners in RPI/Privity discovery disputes. Continue Reading Burden Clarification To Expand PTAB Discovery for RPI/Privity Disputes?