First Boardside Chat of the Year

This Thursday the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) will offer its first Boardside Chat of 2021, from noon to 1 p.m. (EST).

Several administrative patent judges of the PTAB will cover:

  • Final rules related to institution of trials, including elimination of the presumption at institution that a genuine

Agency Left to Defend Unsettled Legacy

Upon taking the reins at the USPTO, Director Iancu made clear that he believed the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) was cancelling too many patent claims in AIA trial proceedings.  Of course the PTAB was simply implementing the statutory framework given to it by Congress – and the Federal Circuit was largely affirming the PTAB’s work. So, the only possible “fix” for the Director was to rebalance the rules/practice to his liking (i.e., in favor of patent owners).

And he changed as much as he could, as fast as he could.
Continue Reading Activist Director Moves On – What’s Next for the PTAB?

Litigators Amending Claims?

Patent prosecution bars are prophylactic provisions typically included in district court protective orders when there is a risk that a recipient of confidential technical information may use (inadvertently or otherwise) that information while prosecuting patent applications in related technology.  Prosecution bars eliminate this risk by preventing individuals who have access to technical information from directly or indirectly drafting, amending, advising, or otherwise affecting the scope of patent claims in a technical field related to the patents at issue.

Many prosecution bars are now written to cover PTAB proceedings, such as IPRs (since amendment is possible). However, whether district court litigators will be permitted to participate in PTAB proceedings may depend on the particular district where the subject patent is being litigated.
Continue Reading Prosecution Bars & The PTAB – An Evolving District Court View

Director Memo Decides Against Standard of In Re Packard

Back in 2018 I noted the current PTO administration had backed away from a dispute on the appropriate 112 standard to apply in AIA trials (after intervention by the previous PTO administration). That is, the initial intervention sought to support the application of the standard enunciated by In re Packard to AIA trial proceedings.  After Director Iancu came on board, that Intervenor Brief was withdrawn.

Today, the PTO formally announced (via memorandum) that the Nautilus standard applies to AIA trials – settling an open question….at least for the time being.


Continue Reading PTAB Applies Nautilus 112 Standard to AIA Trials…For Now

2020: POP Precedents & Director Driven Changes

In 2020, the Board continued to expand 314(a) discretion through numerous Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) decisions. These decisions, among a number of other developments, demonstrated a clear interest on the part of the current Director to rebalance AIA trial proceedings in the direction of patent owners.  At the same time, the agency experienced increasing push back from larger innovator organizations — often subject to frivolous patent litigation— to rein in discretionary practices as it relates to favorite NPE venues. Rule packages attempting to codify 314(a) practices in a manner that would conform with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) were killed, and lawsuits challenging the agency 314(a) practices were filed.  In the background (as seems to occur every year) a constitutional challenge to the PTAB’s very existence made its way to the SCOTUS.

Another exciting PTAB year in the books. But before closing the books on 2020, here are my Top 5 PTAB decisions/developments that changed the game for PTAB practitioners.
Continue Reading Top 5 PTAB Decisions of 2020

Final Rule Package Updates Current PTAB Practices with Two Additions

The USPTO will publish a final rule package today (draft here) that largely presents the earlier Notice of Proposed Rule Making in final form. Most of the changes addressed rules outdated by the SCOTUS decision in SAS Institute, or simply codified existing practices, such as sur-replies.  As such, the bulk of the earlier proposals were not controversial.

However, the earlier Notice also proposed one new idea, eliminating the presumption accorded to petitioner testimonial evidence in the preliminary proceeding (when disputed by patent owner testimonial evidence to the contrary). This proposal was the focus of much of the public commentary.

Despite most bar associations opposing this change, the final rule will in fact eliminate the presumption, starting January 11th (January 9th being a Saturday). The Final Rule also adds a new rule-based prohibition on Sur-reply filings.
Continue Reading PTAB to Eliminate Institution Presumption on January 11th

Boardside Chat Focuses on Multiple Petition Outcomes

This coming Thursday, December 10th, from noon to 1 p.m. ET, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) will offer its next Boardside Chat Webinar to discuss several aspects of PTAB trial proceedings.

Lead Judge Bill Saindon will present the results of the PTAB’s recently updated multiple petitions

Abusive Petition Practices Effectively Controlled by PTAB

Once upon a time, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) accepted AIA trial petitions that attacked a subject patent in a serial fashion.  That is, typically, a group of defendants of a multi-defendant suit  would stagger their filings against a subject patent. For example, Company A would file first, after seeing the Patent Owner’s Preliminary Response to Company A, Company B would file, and then after the Board issued its Decision to Institute relative to Company A’s petition, Company C would file.  In this way, each succeeding petition could improve over the first filed petition and increase the likelihood that the patent would be cancelled. This was not fair, and to the agency’s credit, once this strategy became clear, it was shut down.

With the issuance of the General Plastics decision, as any practitioner would attest, a serial petition strategy has become near impossible.  But that hasn’t stopped PTAB critics from claiming the practice somehow still exists.
Continue Reading PTAB Debunks Multiple Petition Criticisms in Newly Released Statistics

Webinars This Week on Post-Grant Patent Practice

A few interesting programs this week for those interested in a refresher on patent reexamination, or looking toward 2021 PTAB possibilities.

First, tomorrow (Tuesday) brings one of my favorite CLE programs of the year.   IAM’s IP 2020 (formerly Patent Law & Policy) kicks off tomorrow and runs through

Review of APJ Appointments to Be Considered by SCOTUS

Back in November of 2019 the House Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing entitled “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board and the Appointments Clause: Implications of Recent Court Decisions.” The hearing explored whether or not the Federal Circuit solution pronounced in Arthrex was effective to cure the Appointments Clause defect.  While there was some debate over whether the “fix” would hold, all of the witnesses were unanimous in that Congress, could, and should, fix the issue in the short term.

Today, Arthrex was granted cert.  I expect that Congress will now turn back to their earlier discussed legislative fix.
Continue Reading Arthrex Cert Likely to Spur Previously Discussed Legislative Fix