The Impact of SAS Institute on Statutory Estoppel

IPR estoppel is established under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2), which provides that “the petitioner in an inter partes review of a claim in a patent . . . that results in a final written decision . . . may not assert . . . in a civil action . . . that the claim is invalid on any ground that the petitioner raised or reasonably could have raised during that inter partes review.” (emphasis added). Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute, the courts did not apply statutory estoppel to grounds upon which the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) refused to institute trial. The reasoning was that statutory estoppel under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2) only applied to grounds adjudicated in a Final Written Decision (FWD).  As such, grounds shaken out (i.e., partial institutions) prior to trial could not be covered by such estoppel.

Post-SAS, of course, there are no longer partial institutions and this previous distinction simply goes away.  But what happens to those partially instituted cases that remain pending, can a petitioner side-step the revived SAS grounds in the hope of holding onto this estoppel exception?  Continue Reading Failure to Pursue SAS Grounds Leads to Statutory Estoppel

Upcoming PTAB-Related CLE Options

With the summer winding down, it is time to start looking forward to fall. September offers a number of great CLE options.

First up, on September 12th (@1-230PM EST) is the Strafford webinar entitled: Evolving PTAB Trial Practice: Navigating Complex Procedural Rules. This program offers 1.5hrs of CLE and will cover a broad range of PTAB trial practices, including recent practice changes and those on the immediate horizon.

For those seeking a deeper dive, PLI’s flagship PTAB Trials 2018 will be held on Friday September 21st in New York City. If you can’t get to NYC in person, strongly consider the 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 is known for its 360° degree analysis of the PTAB on the overall patent ecosystem and includes such noted speakers this year as former CAFC Chief Judge Paul Michel. This year’s program will provide the first, deep-dive analysis of the recent Trial Practice Guide changes as well as other proposed and expected USPTO rule packages.

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 CLE credits are offered in most jurisdictions.

Hope to see you at one of these upcoming events.

Agency Still Responding to Criticism on Amendment Difficulty

A constant criticism of the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has been the perceived difficulty in amending claims in an AIA trial proceeding. In response, the PTAB has pointed out that the vast majority of motions to amendment fail to distinguish over the art of record.  That is, the Board is not applying Draconian procedural requirements. Rather, in my experience, Patent Owners are attempting to skirt an intervening rights defense with a cosmetic change, or seeking to maintain their infringement case with an incremental change in claim scope.  Such amendments routinely fail to clear the art of record (or supplemental art that is easily located). Not appreciating the real-life practicalities of amendment practice, many critics hoped that the shift in burden post Aqua Products would now favor amendments. While there has been a slight uptick for 2018, as expected, Aqua Products is not moving the needle.

Recent stats from the PTAB demonstrate that while amendment is being attempted slightly more often post-Aqua, the outcomes are no more favorable to Patent Owners. Continue Reading Amendments at the PTAB Hamstrung by Litigation Realities

“Without Prejudice” Dismissal of Earlier Complaint Does not Restart 315(b) Clock

As I predicted it would back in May, the Federal Circuit has now reversed the long-standing practice of the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) to accept certain IPR petitions outside of the 1-year window of 35 U.S.C. § 315(b).  While 315(b) precludes petitions filed more than one year after service of a complaint of infringement for a subject patent, the Board had consistently held that where a first-filed complaint (outside the window) was dismissed without prejudice, that the one-year window would essentially reset.  In other words the PTAB adopted the legal principal that a voluntary dismissal of a complaint renders the earlier proceeding a nullity and leave the parties as if the action had never been brought.

In its en banc ruling today in Click-to-Call v. Ingenio (here), the Court reversed the Board’s longstanding practice. Continue Reading CAFC Reverses Long Standing PTAB Precedent on 1-Year Window

Is The Tide Turning for Patent Owners?

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has issued an update to its Trial Practice Guide. The update includes notable practice changes that favor Patent Owners. Going forward, Patent Owners will have the last word in briefing, and at oral argument.  These changes, along with the imminent switch to a Phillips claim construction and increased feedback from the Federal Circuit are driving welcome changes at the PTAB for Patent Owners.

Please join me for an interactive webinar discussion of these changes next Monday, August 20th @1PM (EST). Register (here).  The webinar will identify key takeaways from these changes, especially for Bio/Pharma Patent Owners, and offer insights and discuss possible further practice changes that will occur in the weeks/months ahead.  My co-presenter for this webinar will be Charlotte Jacobsen, a partner in Ropes & Gray’s life sciences 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).

Trial Practice Guide Changes and Recalibrated PTAB Practice

This Tuesday @1pm(EST), the Practising Law Institute (PLI) will host the webcast entitled: Patent Owners and the PTAB – Is There a Light at the End of the Tunnel? The program will explore a host of recent developments, not the least of which is the recent changes to the PTAB Trial Practice Guide.

Other topics will include:

  • Impact of the switch to the Phillips claim construction practices
  • What has SAS Institute done for petitioners?
  • What has changed in RPI/Privy disputes?
  • Will amending get easier?
  • What other changes are expected in the months ahead?
  • Is legislation likely?

I hope you can join, me, and my co-panelist Rob Greene Sterne of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, P.L.L.C., for this timely discussion.

Patent Owner’s Given New Rights in Trial Practice Guide Update

The Federal Register will issue a notice updating the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) Trial Practice Guide on Monday, August 13, 2018.  You can find a copy of this notice in the advanced reading room (here).  The update provides a number of changes to update the guide as to outdated material, but more importantly, provides significant, new benefits for Patent Owners. Continue Reading Patent Owners to Get Last Word at PTAB – Starting Now

Informative Decision Led to Confusion

Last month the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) designated Ex Parte Jung 2016-008290, “informative.” An informative decision is one that expresses the “Board’s general consensus on recurring issues and guidance to examiners, appellants, patent owners, or petitioners in areas where parties routinely misapply the law.”

In Jung, the Board construed the claim terminology “at least one of A and B” to be conjunctive. That is, this language was determined to be properly construed (following the Federal Circuit precedent of SuperGuide Corp. v. DirecTV Enters., Inc.), as “at least one of A and at least one of B.”  However, the Board also noted that a patent’s claims, specification, or prosecution history may necessitate a broader meaning. Thus, in some scenarios, “at least one of A and B” is properly construed in the disjunctive as “at least one of A or B.”

Since being designated informative, however, Jung seems to have created confusion on whether or not the PTAB was making new law. Continue Reading PTAB De-Designates Ex Parte Jung as Informative Decision

CAFC Emphasizes Flexibility of its Printed Publication Jurisprudence

Last week, I pointed out that the Federal Circuit faulted the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) for its narrow public accessibility analysis in Medtronic, Inc. v. Barry. Given the de novo review of printed publication status at the Federal Circuit, it is an issue that is frequently challenged on appeal.

Last Friday the Court took another opportunity to apply its multi-factor analysis to a printed publication dispute in GoPro Inc., v. Cointour IP Holdings, LLC.  In GoPro, the Court once again emphasized that focusing on a single factor (expertise of the audience) to the exclusion of others is reversible error. In reversing the Board’s decision in GoPro, the Court emphasized (here) that the reasonable diligence standard is applied to those skilled in the art. And that, proof of actual dissemination is not required, only that a person of skill could have located the publication with reasonable diligence.

In still another recent case, the Court explained that a commonly emphasized factor at the PTAB, indexing/searchability, is not a requirement to prove a printed publication publicly accessible. Continue Reading Publication Need not be Indexed/Searchable to be Prior Art

Public Accessibility: A Fact Intensive Inquiry

Yesterday I highlighted a significant decision for Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) practitioners pertaining to Real-Party-In-Interest (RPI) and privity determinations, Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corporation. In Applications, the Federal Circuit faulted the Board for its narrow analysis of the facts, explaining that a more fact-intensive analysis was in order that takes into consideration the complete record. The Court’s rebuke of the PTAB’s RPI/Privy analyses reminded me of another significant Federal Circuit decision of the last few weeks that will recalibrate established PTAB practices.

In Medtronic, Inc. v. Barry the Court also faulted the Board for its narrow analysis of public accessibility. And, like its decision in Applications, directed the Board to perform a more fact intensive analysis of the entire record. Continue Reading Printed Publications & The PTAB