Interim Director Matal Expresses High Confidence in Constitutionality of AIA Trials

Joe Matal, interim director of the Patent Office, addressed the IPO’s 45th Annual Meeting on September 19, 2017, in San Francisco. He said that the Office, and particularly the PTAB, experienced a productive yet tumultuous five years since the passage of the AIA, and acknowledged that the Federal Circuit’s docket of appeals today is dominated by the PTAB’s decisions in AIA trials. He expressed high confidence that the Supreme Court will soon determine, unanimously, that these trials do not violate the Constitution even if they extinguish property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury. Continue Reading

Late Payment of Petition Fee Thwarts IPR

If a Petitioner does not timely file the required petition fee, an IPR will not be instituted. In Cultec, Inc. v. Stormtech LLC  [Case No. IPR2017-00526, Paper 14 (July 17, 2017)], consistent with earlier decisions, the Board denied institution of an IPR because the Petitioner, Cultec, Inc., did not pay the required filing fee until the day after filing its petition, which was one day after the statutory filing deadline under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). Continue Reading

Rejection of Claims Containing Functional Language and a Negative Limitation Affirmed by Federal Circuit

The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in In re Chudik, Appeal 2016-2673 (Fed. Cir. August 25, 2017) (non-prec.), offers patent practitioners a cautionary tale and good teaching points about the propriety of negative limitations and functional claim language.  No two situations are the same, of course, but the case offers a real-world example of how claims reciting these types of features may be assessed by the Patent Office and the Federal Circuit.  Continue Reading

How to Overcome a Section 112 ¶ 6 Means-Plus-Function Presumption

PTABWatch Takeaway: Claims that recite the term “means” may trigger the means-plus-function presumption under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 6 (Section 112(f) of the AIA), but the presumption can be overcome where: (1) the means term itself recites structure; (2) that structure is “common parlance” to those of ordinary skill in the art; and (3) the claim does not recite any function for the means term to perform.

In Skky, Inv. v. MindGeek, SARL, Appeal 16-2018 (Fed. Cir. June 7, 2017), the Federal Circuit upheld the PTAB’s decision that the claim term “wireless device means” of U.S. Patent 7,548,875 (the “’875 patent”) was not a means-plus-function term pursuant to Section 112 ¶ 6.

Continue Reading

Adding Two More to the List of Serious Questions about AIA Trials

In a routine AIA trial, the PTAB determined that challenged claims in a patent directed to HVAC systems were unpatentable as being obvious and anticipated by prior art. This trial was unusual, however, because the Board premised its anticipation conclusion on a joined IPR petition that successfully rectified evidentiary deficiencies in the same petitioner’s earlier IPR petition, which the Board granted only on obviousness grounds. The later IPR petition would have been time-barred but for the Board’s conclusion, according to an expanded panel of administrative patent judges (APJs), that the statutory joinder provision “permits joinder of issues, including new grounds of unpatentability, presented in the petition that accompanies the request for joinder.” Continue Reading

Two More District Courts Apply IPR Estoppel to Grounds Not Raised In Petition

As previously discussed in our post covering the state of IPR estoppel, initial district court decisions have varied regarding the scope of IPR estoppel applied to ground for invalidity not raised in a petition, but that could have been raised. Two recent decisions may show a trend toward uniformity.

In Cobalt Boats, LLC v. Sea Ray Boars, Inc., Judge Morgan of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled on motions in limine, including a motion regarding the scope of IPR estoppel. Case no. 2:15cv00021 (E.D. Va. June 5, 2017). Continue Reading

Secondary Considerations Again Fail to Shore Up Patent Estate

In IPR 2016-00036, a Bosch windshield wiper patent succumbed to Costco’s challenge on grounds of obviousness.   In its final written decision, the Board held claims 13, 17, and 18 of U.S. Patent No. 6,944,905 obvious.  IPR 2016-00039, discussed here, is another Board decision holding obvious several claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,228,588, another member of Bosch’s windshield wiper patent portfolio.  Unlike the Board’s finding in IPR 2016-00039 that PO failed to establish a nexus between proferred evidence and the claims sufficient to provide persuasive evidence of secondary considerations of non-obviousness, PO did establish that nexus in IPR 2016-00036.  Even with that nexus, however, a preponderance of the evidence led the Board to hold the challenged claims unpatentably obvious. Continue Reading

IPR Challenge May Proceed Even in the Absence of Some Patent Owners

When a patent is co-owned by a state university and another party, an IPR may proceed against the remaining party even after the state university co-owner has been determined to have sovereign immunity from the proceeding.  Reactive Surfaces Ltd., LLP v. Toyota Motor Corp., [Case No. IPR2017-00572, Paper 32 (July 13, 2017)]. This recent decision was the first to address a situation where a university owned a patent jointly with a company.  This decision follows two earlier cases, Covidien v. University of Florida , discussed here, and NeoChord, Inc. v. University of Maryland, Baltimore, [Case No. IPR2016-00208, Paper 28 (PTAB, May 23, 2017)], where the Board determined that sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment as an “arm of the state” prevents an IPR from being instituted regarding patents owned by state universities. Continue Reading

PTAB Correctly Construed “Said” and Canceled Claims—but Was the Patent CBM Eligible?

In a CBM appeal, TransPerfect Global, Inc. v. Matal, No. 2016-1121 (Fed. Cir. July 12, 2017) (non-prec.), the Federal Circuit determined that the PTAB correctly construed the word “said” in the claim term “said hyperlink,” and determined that TransPerfect’s challenged claims were unpatentable for lack of written description. The court’s claim construction analysis is thorough and well supported, but the treatment of the challenged patent as CBM-eligible appears to be inconsistent with Federal Circuit precedent. Continue Reading

Eli Lilly Successfully Challenges U Penn Erbitux® Claims at PTAB, Derailing Infringement Suit

The PTAB recently canceled the University of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Patent No. 7,625,558, a potentially fatal blow to the University’s suit against Eli Lilly and Company alleging its cancer therapeutic Erbitux® (centuximab) infringes the patent.  Eli Lilly and Co. v. Trustees of the Univ. of Penn., Case IPR2016-00458 (July 13, 2017). The PTAB’s decision resolved testimony from the parties’ competing expert witnesses in favor of the Petitioner (Eli Lilly and Company), thus highlighting how the PTAB’s scientific acumen can be leveraged to effectively to short-circuit an otherwise expensive and time-consuming lawsuit. Continue Reading

LexBlog