Issue Joinder Debate Comes Full Circle

As previously discussed, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s (PTAB) new Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) has considered its first case in Proppant Express Investments v. Oren Technologies, Case IPR2018-00914 (PTAB Mar. 13, 2019) (Paper 38)

The POP reversed the earlier (divided) panel decision in Proppant Express (which conflicted with the earlier consensus of Target Corp. v. Destination Maternity), holding that 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) permits issue joinder. More specifically, the POP held that 315(c) provides discretion to allow a petitioner to be joined to a proceeding in which it is already a party and provides discretion to allow joinder of new issues into an existing proceeding (here).

That is, we are right back where we started in Target.
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Judge Scott Boalick Formally Appointed Chief

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today the appointment of Scott Boalick as Chief Judge for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Boalick has served as the acting Chief Judge for the PTAB since September 2018. Boalick begins his permanent role today.

Boalick was appointed

Statutory Right to Appeal for Joined Parties

In Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Research Corp. Technologies, Inc., (here) the Federal Circuit held that parties joined to an IPR petition have a statutory right of appeal under 35 U.S.C. § 319 as “parties”, even if the original petitioner lacks Article III standing for appeal.
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Issue Joinder Practices Poised to Reset

As previously discussed, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) is now reconsidering its issue joinder practices. These practices were the subject of significant debate internal to the Board a few years back. The inability of the Board to arrive at a majority consensus on whether issue joinder was permitted by the AIA statutes led to the now infamous “panel stacking” decisions. These expanded panel decisions provided a brute force solution to the conflicting positions on the question of issue joinder, a de facto precedent of sorts.

With the new Precedential Opinion Panel, or “POP,” allowing for a more streamlined process for making precedent, the Board seems poised to drive official PTAB precedent on this question — but in a new direction.
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Court Takes Offense to Tactics Geared to PTAB Alone

Litigants beware; Judge Rodney Gilstrap (E.D. Texas) warned litigants considered to be using the district court proceedings to posture positions in co-pending CBM proceedings that ‘[t]he Court does not countenance—in fact this Court is offended by—the strategic use of an Article III Court to gain a tactical advantage in any parallel proceeding.”

But, this dispute may be a preview of things to come as the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) aligns itself with the Phillips construction of the courts.


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New Presentation of Same IPR Art Thwarted by Estoppel

Post SAS, there are fewer exceptions to IPR estoppel. Indeed, the absence of partial institutions has led to many courts finding the “reasonably could have raised” aspect of IPR estoppel to be broader than just the art of the ultimate Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) trial. As such, unsuccessful petitioners are now exploring alternative theories.

In The California Institute of Technology v. Broadcom Limited, et al., (here) the Central District of California found that IPR estoppel applies where the same IPR reference is later raised under the “known or used” prong of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. § 102(a), rather than as a “patent or printed publication” as in the IPR.
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PTAB 2018: A Year of Agency Recalibration

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) stole much of the 2018 patent law spotlight. From landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Oil States and SAS Institute, to significant en banc Federal Circuit decisions in WiFi-One, PTAB practice evolved more in 2018 than in any prior year. That said, the most impactful 2018 changes for practitioners were driven by the agency.

Under the pro-patent leadership of Director Iancu, the agency is expected to drive still further change in 2019.
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Even Preliminary Proceeding Arguments Notice the Public

It is well-established that statements made by a Patent Owner during an inter partes review (IPR) can constitute prosecution disclaimer— even in papers filed by a Patent Owner before the trial. Aylus Networks, Inc. v. Apple Inc., No. 2016-1599 (Fed. Cir. May 11, 2017)

As a reminder, prosecution disclaimer prevents a patentee that clearly and unmistakably disclaimed a certain meaning for its patent claims during prosecution from recapturing this same meaning during claim construction in a subsequent litigation. As was the case in Aylus, Patent Owners are learning that the timing of such a disclaimer, or lack of express adoption by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB), is of no moment.
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Wednesday Chat to Address Recent Changes

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board will host a special “Boardside Chat” webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 7 from noon to 1 p.m. ET. The webinar is free and open to everyone.

The program will address a variety of recent changes to procedures, including the process of paneling cases (Standard