Boardside Chat This Thursday

The next Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Boardside Chat webinar will be this Thursday, September 21, from noon to 1 p.m. ET. The Chat this month will be a discussion with in-house counsel on their perspectives on America Invents Act (AIA) trial proceedings before the PTAB. The panel will touch upon their past experiences and strategic considerations in handling proceedings before the Board.

The panel features:
• Yen Florczak, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel at 3M Company
• Henry Hadad, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Bristol-Myers Squibb
• Samir Pandya, Head of IP Litigation at SAP

(Register here)

Questions can be sent in advance to PTABBoardsideChat@uspto.gov

In-Person Hearings Should Not Require the Consent of an Adversary

Last week, the PTAB published an updated Oral Hearing Guide (here) to reflect current agency practices. The changes include rather mundane clarifications on such topics as public access and demonstrative submission for ex parte hearings.

More interestingly, however, the agency highlights an all-virtual hearing “option” for America Invents Act (AIA) trials. But, in practice this option is more appropriately considered the new default.

Continue Reading PTAB Default Should Be In-Person Trial Hearings

Claim Overlap Can be a Landmine for the Uninformed

Earlier this week the Federal Circuit decided In re Cellect, LLC, affirming the PTAB’s cancellation of claims for obviousness-type double patenting (ODP) over reference claims from earlier expiring patents in the same family in which differences in expiration dates were due solely to patent term adjustment (PTA).

For those in the SEP and Bio/pharma spaces, this is a call to action.

Continue Reading Building Patent Portfolios – Post Cellect

Amended Rule Moves Focus to Admissibility

Back in April the Supreme Court approved changes to FRE 702 (Expert Witness Testimony) that will take effect on December 1st. These changes clarify that the preponderance of evidence standard controls the evaluation of expert testimony while also providing structural changes designed to refocus the trial court on admissibility.

Enhancing the gatekeeping function of the courts moves current practice away from erring on the side of admissibility. This also avoids fact finders needing to assign an appropriate weight where reliability is in question; such practices are especially confusing for juries.

But, what does the change to FRE 702 mean for declarant testimony at the PTAB?

Continue Reading FRE 702 Amendment & The PTAB

APA Safeguards Rebuttal Opportunity to New Claim Construction

A fundamental safeguard of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) is the opportunity to be heard and to present evidence. Over the years the Federal Circuit has reminded the PTAB that parties must have notice of the agency’s positions and a meaningful opportunity to rebut such positions. The same opportunity must be provided for positions of opposing parties — as long as such positions are deemed timely.

Since the SCOTUS decision in SAS institute, which explained that the petition serves to “guide the life of the litigation,” the Board has considered positions expressed in a petition to be fixed. That is, if a patent owner raises a new claim construction mid-trial, the petitioner may not stray from its original positions (typically addressing a different construction) to rebut the new position of the patent owner. As can be appreciated there is a clear tension between the due process guarantees of the APA and a rigid application of the SCOTUS explanation in SAS.

Yesterday, the CAFC issued a precedential decision to clarify that there is at least some wiggle room for petitioners.

Continue Reading CAFC Clarifies PTAB Trial Scope – Coming Practice Changes

Critical U.S Industry Depends on the PTAB – Not China

The so-called PREVAIL Act (here) was floated some weeks back to “to ensure the United States does not cede technological supremacy to our foreign competitors and adversaries.” As the accompanying materials insist, fighting China is the rationale behind the bill’s proposed patent reforms. That is, the U.S. Patent system must be made stronger to rival the Chinese threat by weakening the USPTO’s Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB).

If this “stronger patents” argument sounds familiar, it should. Before its reinvention as the Prevail Act, the same “litigation first” ideas were packaged to the American public as the so-called Stronger Patents Act. But, the “Stronger” Bill went absolutely nowhere despite being introduced every year for the past six years (maybe 7, I lost count).

Not surprisingly, increasing patent litigation expense and unnecessary liability for successful U.S companies in the name of “stronger patents” didn’t resonate on the Hill. This is because the America Invents Act (AIA), which created PTAB trial was passed into law a little more than a decade ago for the purpose of reducing wasteful litigation over improvidently issued patents— and is working exactly as intended. Few legislators (aside from sponsors) were interested in a proposal to effectively repeal the AIA. So, after years of failure, this perennially failed effort has been newly-minted as the PREVAIL Act.

While the new spin also argues for stronger patents, it presents the need as a necessary tool to “prevail” against the growing technological threat from communist China. Ironically, the blatant dishonesty of this new spin only serves to highlight the critical importance of the PTAB to U.S. interests.

Continue Reading The Prevail Act – Harm U.S. Industry to Fight China?

No Role For POP Post-Arthrex

As of Monday July 24th, the USPTO has discontinued the use of its Precedential-Opinion-Panel (POP) in favor of the interim Director Review (DR). This move was not unexpected as the POP panel (an early attempt to cure the Arthrex infirmity with partial Director oversight) was effectively replaced by the SCOTUS decision in Arthrex (Director Only).

In relying only on the DR moving forward, the PTAB has also decided to expand it to AIA institution decisions.

Continue Reading PTAB Drops POP Panel Review Option

Boardside Chat Thursday 7/20

The PTAB’s next Boardside Chat webinar will be held this Thursday, July 20, from noon to 1 p.m. ET. The panel of APJs will discuss issues that typically arise during an America Invents Act (AIA) trial proceeding before the PTAB. The scheduled topics include filing of multiple petitions, discretionary denial, new arguments, and deposition of expert witnesses. The panel will share practical tips and discuss strategies that may be effective before the Board.

A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation. Questions can be sent in advance (or during the webinar) to PTABBoardsideChat@USPTO.gov

Register (here)

Empirical Studies Refute Oft Repeated Fallacies

The PTAB released two studies on historical petition filing practices this month. One directed to the frequency of so-called serial/parallel petition filings, and the other pertaining to Orange Book/Biologics patents. As with the agency’s earlier studies on these same topics (2021), the refreshed data again demonstrates that Orange Book patents are very rarely subject to AIA trial proceedings, and that abusive, serial petition filings have been effectively outlawed for years now.

Of course anyone that actually practices before the PTAB is well-aware of these realities. So, these empirical studies are primarily directed to the oft repeated criticisms of moneyed lobbyists and disingenuous critics at a time when both Congress and the agency grapple with wildly conflicting narratives.

Continue Reading PTAB Data Belies Outdated Criticisms

Preliminary Guidance More Hinderance Than Help

Patent Owner’s rarely seek to amend claims during PTAB trials. This is because, as most such patents are being simultaneously litigated, amendment introduces a host of complications — not the least of which is creating an intervening rights defense for the patent challenger. This is why amendments are historically seen in about 5-7% of PTAB trials.

For the rare Patent Owner that is inclined to amend, the PTAB offers an Amendment Pilot Program. The Pilot is designed to help Patent Owner refine their amendment positions with two opportunities to amend (non-pilot route permits one amendment submission). Under the Pilot, the Patent Owner can also request the panel’s preliminary assessment (i.e., Preliminary Guidance) of its initial amendment to assist in refining the final amendment submission.

But, practically speaking, Preliminary Guidance is a significant gamble for Patent Owners that is rarely worth taking. And as the Federal Circuit pointed out earlier this week, even when seemingly helpful, it may still prove ultimately unhelpful.

Continue Reading PTAB Amendment Pilot – Guidance or Hinderance?