Legislation & Continued Judicial Feedback

There have been a number of developments in the courts, at the USPTO, and on the legislative side over the past few months. These developments, some of which have been discussed here at length — such as the 101 legislative effort — will continue to drive new patent strategies and

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.


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Standing Dispute Highlights 315(e)(2) Estoppel Concern

Article III standing has been a problem for certain petitioners seeking review of adverse Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) AIA trial rulings. This is because, while the AIA statutes provide that anyone other than a patent owner may challenge a patent at the PTAB, Article III standing is necessary for petitioners to appeal adverse PTAB decisions to the Federal Circuit. Phigenix, Inc. v. ImmunoGen, Inc.  Since Phigenix, there have been a number of Federal Circuit decisions exploring the degree of harm necessary to convey Article III standing in this context.

Earlier this week, the Federal Circuit analyzed “competitor harm” as a basis for Article III standing along with the potential of adverse estoppel impact of 35 U.S.C. §315(e)(2) on the petitioner.. While the competitor harm analysis may be interesting from an academic standpoint, the more meaningful discussion for practitioners is the Court’s commentary on the 315(e) estoppel impact for such petitioners. 
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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.
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Thursday Webinar Addresses Parallel Post-Grant Proceedings

This Thursday, April 25th, from noon to 1 p.m. ET, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) will host a Boardside Chat webinar presenting information on the interplay of AIA trial proceedings under the America Invents Act (AIA), reissue applications, and reexamination proceedings.

CAFC Upholds Injunction to Shut Down PTAB

The AIA statutes provide that a person who is not the owner of a patent, can challenge the patent at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). Pursuant to the bright lines drawn by the statute, the PTAB has accepted AIA challenges from non-owners where traditional defenses may have prevented such challenges in other fora. For example, while assignor estoppel might preclude a patent validity challenge in a district court, the PTAB accepts such challenges. In affirming this practice, the Federal Circuit explained that common-law doctrines are subject to abrogation of the AIA statutes.

A more recent argument has been that private agreement, such as a forum selection clause, can divest the PTAB of jurisdiction of a patent validity dispute. For its part, the PTAB has disagreed to date…..the District court on the other hand, has attempted to enjoin petitioners from continuing that the PTAB in such circumstances. Today, the Federal Circuit has backed the injunction strategy, effectively shutting down the PTAB.
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Timing of Estoppel Unimportant

Last week in Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. v. Par Pharmaceutical Inc., Nos. 14-1289-RGA, 14-1494-RGA, 15-0078-RGA (D. Del. Apr. 11, 2019), (here) the court addressed a motion to estop defendants from asserting invalidity arguments based on prior art references already presented at trial. The motion argued that, in related IPR proceedings brought while litigation was pending, the same defendants challenged and failed to prove the unpatentability of overlapping claims. The Board’s Final Written Decision (FWD) issued during the appeal. (later remanded back to D.Del)

Novartis argued that, irrespective of the timing of the FWD, that the invalidity defenses and counterclaims presented at trial by defendants should be estopped.
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