Webinar to Discuss Remote Hearings

This coming Friday, May 1st, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) will conduct a ‘Boardside Chat” webinar from noon to 1 p.m. ET.

The webinar will address logistics for virtual proceedings, public remote viewing of hearings, timing considerations for filings, and the CARES Act relief. Chief Judge Scott Boalick, Deputy Chief Judge Jackie Bonilla, Vice Chief Judge Mike Tierney, and Acting Vice Chief Judge Michael Kim will present. (link here)

Given the current Cares Act accommodations expire at the end of the month, there should be an update from the agency some time before Friday on whether or not the current options will be extended through May.

The webinar is free and open to all. There will be a Q&A session at the end. Questions may be sent in advance or during the webinar to PTABBoardsideChat@uspto.gov.

Public Policy Role of PTAB Clashes with Assignor Estoppel Equities

The doctrine of assignor estoppel prevents prior owners/inventors of a patent from later challenging the patent’s validity.  Assignor estoppel’s premise is that the assignor “should not be permitted to sell something and later assert that what was sold is worthless, all to the detriment of the assignee.” Diamond Scientific Co. v. Ambico, Inc., 848 F.2d 1220, 1224 (Fed. Cir. 1988).

While exceptions to assignor estoppel have existed since its inception, the Federal Circuit has found that the AIA can be leveraged to circumvent the doctrine—that is, while a prior owner of a patent may not challenge the patent’s validity at district court, it may challenge the validity at the PTAB. Continue Reading Assignor Estoppel & the PTAB

SCOTUS Clarifies PTAB Institution Issues Not Subject to Appeal

Back In December I pointed out that the SCOTUS would likely tighten the PTAB appeal bar in Dex Media Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies, LP, explaining that, based on the oral argument, that several justices of the Court seemed to take the view that technical violations, such as 315(b) were too closely related to the institution determination of the agency.  For example, Justices Kagan and Ginsburg explained it would be “a little bit silly to go back to square one” and that there was “something unseemly about nullifying the determination on the merits.” (transcript here)

Today’s majority decision, authored by Justice Ginsburg, presented no surprises. Continue Reading PTAB Appeal Scope Recalibrated by SCOTUS

Additional Briefing Invited on Binary Application of NHK

Last week I pointed out that the litigation timing factor introduced by NHK Spring Co. Ltd. v. Intri-Plex Technologies Inc., has effectively swallowed the entirety of the General Plastic factors in NHK scenarios. That is, in some recent Board decisions, institution has been declined in AIA Trial Proceedings on the sole basis that a district court litigation would reach trial first.  Given the AIA has its own timing mechanism, 35 U.S.C. § 315(b), and plaintiffs seeking to avoid the PTAB need only go to the WDTX (where NPEs tend to go anyway) to leverage this development, this is a troublesome development for the system.

In that same post, I pointed out that a request was made to the Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) to review the Board’s application of NHK (Sand Revolution II LLC., v. Continental Inter Modal Group – Trucking LLC. (IPR2019-01393). While that request was denied, the very next day, the panel in Sand Revolution ordered supplemental briefing on this important topic. Continue Reading PTAB to Take a More Nuanced Approach to NHK Determinations?

Cert Petitions Pursue Takings Clause Argument

Last week, Arthrex filed a petition for certiorari challenging the holding of the Federal Circuit that its Appointments Clause challenge was forfeited. (a companion case to the one that has received all of the notoriety).  In its first petition for certiorari, Arthrex also pursues a different constitutional issue based on the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, like other recent filers.

I expect this argument to soon be added to the list of failed constitutional challenges to the PTAB.

Continue Reading Takings Clause Challenge to PTAB Trials?

New Precedent/Informative Decisions Demonstrate Nexus Considerations

Yesterday, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) designated one new precedential case, and two informative decisions directed to the application of objective indicia to obviousness determinations.  Collectively, the decisions outline the necessary degree of nexus between subject claims and submitted objective indicia. Continue Reading PTAB Highlights Successful Application of Objective Indicia

CAFC Decision Moots Some POP Consideration in Hunting Titan Dispute

Last November, the PTAB ordered Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) review of the final written decision in  Hunting Titan, Inc. v. DynaEnergetics GmbH & Co. KG, Inc., IPR2018-00600. The rehearing request in Hunting Titan sought review of the Board’s denial of a Motion to Amend based upon an alleged sua sponte modification of a petitioner’s anticipation ground by the panel (here).  That is, the POP is reviewing the Board’s role in the amendment process where a petitioner either decides not to challenge an amended claim, or does so in a deficient manner that is apparent to the expert agency.

But the Federal Circuit has now weighed in on most aspects of this debate. Continue Reading CAFC Finds “Little Sense” in Limiting the PTAB on Amended Claims

PLI Program to Focus on the State of the PTAB

This coming Monday, April 13th, the Practising Law Institute (PLI) will host a one-hour briefing at 3PM(EST) entitled: COVID-19 and PTAB Recalibration — Virtual Trials and Evolving Agency Workflows. (Register here).  I am pleased to once again team with Rob Sterne of Sterne Kessler Goldstein on this timely PLI briefing.

The briefing will explore the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on established AIA trial practices and strategies, particularly the new normal of video hearings and telephonic cross-examinations.  The briefing will also address how these practice adaptations have impacted trial strategies.  Additional topics will include recent developments in discretionary denials, Arthrex remands, and the impact of the Federal Circuit’s reversal of a decision of the PTAB’s Precedential Opinion Panel (POP).  Q&A will also be provided.

New Printed Publication Precedent/Informative Decisions

Yesterday, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) designated one new precedential case, and four informative decisions directed to printed publication analyses.

The four informative decisions stem from AIA trial proceedings, and address common fact patterns in assessing public accessibility of a printed publication.  Perhaps of most interest is the precedential decision, which outlines important distinctions between examinational and adjudicatory procedures before the agency. Continue Reading PTAB Precedent Distinguishes Prima Facie Case from AIA Trial Practices

NHK Swallows General Plastic

The America Invents Act (AIA) was passed into law in 2011 to provide a more cost-effective, faster alternative to district court patent litigation.  At the time, bill sponsors explained that some of America’s largest innovators were paying more to their patent lawyers in a given year — to defend against “patent troll” suits— than they were on new research and development.  The role of the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) in this perceived problem was not lost on legislators.  Provisions were added to the AIA to address perceived joinder abuses in the EDTX.  And, in many respects, EDTX plaintiff behaviors abruptly transformed the AIA from an esoteric, multi-year legislative debate, into law.

Of course, EDTX remains one of the most popular patent venues in the U.S. despite the AIA, and additional efforts to rein in this venue option in TC Heartland.  More recently, EDTX has inspired a copycat venue in the Western District of Texas (WDTX), which has seen a 700% increase in patent cases since 2016. The expansion in popularity of Texas district courts, especially for non-practicing entities (NPEs), makes the PTAB’s recent deference to such litigation under its NHK precedent all the more troubling given its AIA mandate. Continue Reading Texas Plaintiffs More Likely to Side-Step PTAB?