New Tactics & Risks for Litigators

On Monday, I laid out my Top 5 PTAB cases of 2019 for PTAB Practitioners, focusing on those cases that changed day-to-day practices before the agency. Like Monday’s list, my Top 5 PTAB developments of 2019 for District Court Litigators will focus on those practical developments that will impact related litigation practices outside of the agency.

In 2019, there were a number developments of interest to litigators, from tricks to avoid the PTAB altogether, to new risks on fee awards and estoppel.  
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PTAB 2019: A Year of New Precedent

There were a number of high profile developments at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) in 2019. New procedures for amending claims, Practice Guide updates to thwart parallel petition filings, a successful constitutional challenge based on the Appointments Clause, and another SCOTUS review of the PTAB appeal bar.  But, not all of these developments impact the day-to-day life of PTAB practitioners.  Of greater interest to PTAB practitioners are the developments that change the game for the average AIA trial, with this in mind, below are my Top 5 PTAB Practitioner Developments of 2019.
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Totality of Circumstances for Determining Public Accessibility

Over the years, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board had become panel dependent in assessing questions of public accessibility at institution.  Some panels seemed to require a showing of a likelihood of public accessibility to move forward, while others  required a more definitive showing.  Last spring, the Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) took up this growing rift in institution standards in Hulu, LLC v. Sound View Innovations, LLC, Case IPR2018-01039. Specifically,  the  POP addressed the requirements for establishing that a reference qualifies as a printed publication at the time of institution.

In its now precedential decision, the Board found that a more flexible approach was needed at institution.
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Overview for Those New to AIA Trials

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) will conduct a Boardside Chat today from noon to 1PM (EST) for those wanting to learn AIA Trial basics.  Lead Judge James Worth and Judge Alyssa Finamore will walk through the AIA trial process and explain each step in detail. Access

Well, that Escalated Quickly…

On the heels of the supplemental briefing discussed yesterday, the Federal Circuit has already issued its decision in  Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc.  The Court has vacated and remanded the decision, ordering  a new hearing before a panel of different APJs, prospectively remedying the issue by severing the problematic aspect of 35 U.S.C. § 3(c).

So, what does this mean for pending appeals?
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An Avalanche of FWD Do-Overs Imminent?

Back in June I explained the latest constitutional challenge to AIA Trial Proceedings under the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  In a nutshell, the argument is that PTAB Administrative Patent Judges (APJ) are “superior officers” delivering the final word of the government in PTAB trial proceedings.  And that, as such, APJ actions are unconstitutional since they are not political appointees confirmed by the U.S. Senate — as the Appointments Clause requires.

That argument found its way to the Federal Circuit earlier this month in Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc.  At oral argument, the Court probed the Director’s ability to remove APJs, and seemed concerned that this deficiency was enough to violate the Appointments Clause.  An Order issued last week for additional briefing appears to reinforce the expectation that the Court will find the APJs functioning in violation of the Appointments Clause.


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October Boardside Chat Looks Back at FY2019

Today, from noon to 1 p.m. (EST), the Board will conduct its October Boardside Chat.  The October discussion will cover 2019 changes to ex parte appeal and AIA trial procedures.

The FY2019 changes include the Motion to Amend pilot program, latest updates to the AIA Trial Practice Guide,

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.
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Exceptional Cases & The PTAB

As discussed last month, as PTAB proceedings conclude at the Federal Circuit and return to the district courts, courts are finding themselves faced with new questions on estoppel. Another question that has been recently posed for successful PTAB challenges is whether, and to what extent, a prevailing party in an “exceptional” case (35 U.S.C. § 285) can obtain fees for work done at the PTAB?

Once again, the answer may depend on the particular district court.
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