CAFC Refuses Remand on 112 6th Deficiencies

When challenging claims at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB), Rule 42.104(b)(3) requires a Petitioner to identify the specific portions of a challenged patent’s specification that describe the structure corresponding to a claim’s means-plus-function claim feature.  Of course, if a petitioner fails to do so, the Board will reject Petitioner’s challenge for failing to comply with the Rule.  To the frustration of petitioners, however, where that failure is based upon the shortcomings of the challenged patent itself, the PTAB is  precluded from officially making such an indefiniteness determination.  Instead, the Board will simply conclude that the rule has not been satisfied.

A week back, the Federal Circuit reiterated this shortcoming of the IPR statutes.
Continue Reading PTAB Can’t Find Means-Plus-Function Claims Defective

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

CAFC Holds IPR Claim Amendments Subject To Full Patentability Examination

Yesterday, a divided CAFC panel held in Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hulu, LLC (here) that during an IPR proceeding, the Board may consider any patentability challenge—including subject matter eligibility—if the Patent Owner moves to amend its claims under § 316(d).  The Court continues to emphasize the agency’s duty to the public in assessing patentability of the patent claims it issues.
Continue Reading 101 is Fair Game for Assessing PTAB Amendments

Settlement by Amendment Scenario Thwarted in PTAB Rehearing Reversal

Last March, I explained the strange scenario playing out in ZTE USA Inc., & LG Electronics Inc. v. Cywee Group LTD. (IPR2019-00143).  In ZTE, the original petitioner was joined upon institution by a second petitioner.  As is often the case, the joined petitioners were competitors.  (A joined petitioner takes an understudy role in AIA trial proceedings, absent a settlement between the original petitioner and the patent owner).

Rather than settle, the original petitioner in ZTE decided not to oppose the Patent Owner’s amended claims, or for that matter, even request oral argument.  And, given that the original petitioner was at least still present in the proceeding, the PTAB refused to allow the second petitioner to step in and oppose the amended claims. My previous post pointed out that this was bad policy that could lead to anticompetitive behavior in joinder scenarios.

Last Friday, the PTAB reconsidered its initial decision, and in the wake of Hunting Titan, reversed its earlier decision to allow the amendment opposition of the second petitioner.
Continue Reading PTAB Allows Joined Party to Oppose Amendment in Place of Original Petitioner

Roughly 10% of AIA Proceedings Involve Amendments

Earlier this week the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) released the sixth installment of its Motion to Amend Study. The study tracks and analyzes all motions to amend filed in America Invents Act trials, including pilot motions, through the end of March 2020.  Not surprisingly, this installment doesn’t look much different than previous ones.  Amendment remains unpopular at the Board for strategic reasons, and those Patent Owners that do attempt amendment are rarely successful.

While the 6th installment preview early results on the Amendment Pilot, it does not present success rates (which to date, are no better then the old program – also, not a surprise). While there was an initial flurry of Patent Owners opting for the Pilot program, that initial amendment popularity has waned.
Continue Reading PTAB Amendment Study Shows More of the Same

Federal Government Seeks Cert on Appointments Clause & Forfeiture Issues

On June 25th, the federal government filed a petition (here) for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the CAFC’s decisions in both Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., No. 2018-2140 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 31, 2019) and Polaris Innovations Ltd. v. Kingston Tech. Co., Inc., No. 2018-1831 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 31, 2020).  This petition comes as no surprise after the CAFC’s fractured denial of an en banc Arthrex rehearing.

The Court has had occasion to consider Appointments Clause issues several times in recent years, most notably in Lucia v. SEC (2018), and again touching upon the issue last week in Seila Law LLC v. CFPB. 

Is there a SCOTUS appetite for the gov’t’s issues?
Continue Reading PTAB Appointments Clause Debate: SCOTUS Preview

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