APA Action & Mandamus Petition Simultaneously Challenge PTAB’s NHK/Fintiv Framework

Back in June, I predicted that an APA action against the USPTO and/or a mandamus petition to the Federal Circuit was inevitable given the PTAB’s practice of denying IPR petitions in favor of competing district court trial dates. Well…here we are.

Yesterday,  Director Iancu was sued by a group of large tech companies for allegedly violating the APA by denying IPR petitions on the basis of a competing trial date, and late last week, one of the same companies also filed a mandamus petition seeking to force the agency to consider the merits of a petition denied as a matter of discretion even though it was filed some seven months before the 315(b) deadline.

Never a dull moment at the PTAB.
Continue Reading USPTO Sued Over Discretionary Denials

Delaware Cases Slipping 4-6 Months

The practice of denying AIA trial petitions in view of competing district court trial dates has brought some negative attention to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) over the past few months. At the same time, patent litigation has increased over the first two quarters of the year by 20%.  This surge has been greatly aided by the exploding popularity of the Western District of Texas (WDTX) with non-practicing entities — a district that the PTAB is increasingly deferring to in its discretionary denials based upon competing trial dates.

While Patent Owners are quick to point to a looming district court trial date as being set in stone, in reality, these dates are often reset once the PTAB hurdle is cleared.
Continue Reading District Court Trial Dates Tend to Slip After PTAB Discretionary Denials

Board Acknowledges Slipping WDTX Trial Date

Some weeks back I highlighted the institution decision in Sand Revolution II LLC., v. Continental Inter Modal Group – Trucking LLC. (IPR2019-01393), which held that despite most General Plastic Factors favoring institution, the majority felt as though a looming WDTX trial date trumped all other GP factors and denied institution.  After petitioner’s unsuccessful request for a Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) hearing, the Board ordered additional briefing.

Today, the Board reversed course instituting the Sand Revolution IPR.  In the process, the Board provided some insight into slipping WDTX trial dates and steps petitioners can take to help avoid discretionary denials of parallel AIA trial petitions.
Continue Reading PTAB Reverses Discretionary Denial Based on WDTX Trial

Apple Factors Added to NHK Mix

A few weeks back I highlighted the fact that the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) was in the process of considering a more nuanced approach to NHK determinations.  That is, with a few Board decisions seemingly denying IPR trial institutions on the sole basis of a competing, and earlier district court trial date, the Board was considering whether its approach had become too rigid.

Today, the Board designated as precedential the supplemental briefing order in Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc., IPR2020-00019, Paper 11 (March 20, 2020), which lists six factors to be assessed in such scenarios.
Continue Reading PTAB Adds Factors to Assess Import of Competing Trial Date

Indemnification “Significant and Meaningful Relationship”

Extending a trend started last spring, the PTAB is looking more closely at AIA trial petitions coming from separate parties.  For parties seeking to pursue an AIA trial proceeding, this trend should give pause to those considering participation in Joint Defense Groups, or linked to another petitioner by business arrangement or indemnification obligation.

Last week, in PayPal Inc. v. Ioengine LLC, the Board explained that a customer/supplier relationship, together with indemnification obligation is enough to be considered a “same petitioner” in a General Plastic analysis.
Continue Reading PTAB Focuses on Customer/Supplier Relationship in 314(a) Denial

Redundant Grounds Not An Efficient Administration of Justice

Last month, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) issued an Order explaining that maintaining multiple, concurrent proceedings per patent presents a significant burden for the Board.  More specifically, where the same claims are challenged across multiple, redundant petitions (i.e., pile-on), the Board pointed out that instituting trial across all redundant filings may undermine the Office’s ability to complete proceedings in a timely manner and places an unfair burden on the Patent Owner. 35 U.S.C. § 314(a).

That petition filer, which has filed numerous redundant petitions across a large patent portfolio, is now seeing the first of its redundant petitions being denied.


Continue Reading PTAB Begins to Deny Pile-On Petitions from Same Petitioner

Simultaneous/Redundant Petitions Attacking Same Claims Questioned

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s (PTAB) new focus on institution equities of serial petition challenges was the most significant development of 2018. Since that time the Board has expanded its equitable focus beyond follow-on petitions and similarly situated defendants to consider parallel litigation timing.

This week, the Board tackled a new consideration. That is, whether it makes sense from a fairness perspective to give an IPR petitioner 5 bites at the same apple. I have been expecting this one.
Continue Reading PTAB Pushes Back on Redundant Filings of Same Petitioner

Director Encouraged to Do What He is Already Doing?

At several bar events over the past few weeks, the Director has made clear that the agency is “looking into” ways to address certain serial petitioning practices beyond that of the “follow-on” scenario. For example, where multiple petitions are filed at the same time for the sole purpose of multiplying the number of grounds for an AIA trial proceeding.

This past Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Director Iancu seemingly asking him to do what he is already doing.  And for him to respond to proposed directives (transparently presented in the form of questions) on accomplishing such.
Continue Reading Senate Provides Directives to USPTO to Attack Serial PTAB Filings

Close Trial Date to Doom Parallel IPR Petitions?

Last September, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) found the advanced stage of a parallel district court proceeding weighed in favor of denying a follow-on, IPR petition. NHK Spring Co. Ltd. v. Intri-Plex Technologies Inc. That is, when weighing the equities of a follow-on petition under General Plastic, the competing litigation’s scheduled conclusion before the end of any potentially instituted IPR favored a discretionary denial of the petition under 35 U.S.C. § 314(a).

Since that time, the existence of late stage litigation proceedings has been raised in the context of first-filed petitions, and is beginning to gain traction there as well.
Continue Reading PTAB Equitable Analysis Extends Beyond Follow-on Petitions