Claims Construed and Canceled as Patent Nears its Expiration Date

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In MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC v. Ricoh Americas Corp., Appeal 2016-1243 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 13, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final written decision canceling all eight claims in U.S. Patent No. 8,488,173. The patent issued from an application that was the tenth continuation-in-part of a 20-year-old application that relies for priority on seven provisional applications. The decision may be noteworthy if only because it highlights how seemingly-minor changes to these applications over time influenced the PTAB’s interpretation of certain claim terms—an interpretation that finally led the PTAB and court to conclude the claims were not patentable, just as the patent is about to expire. Continue Reading

Don’t Switch Horses Midstream

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In IPR2015-01157, 10X Genomics, Inc. challenged claims 1-31 of USPN 8,889,083 owned by the University of Chicago.  PTAB instituted trial on grounds of obviousness over two references.  Each party relied on the testimony of one or more experts, and the Patent Owner challenged expert testimony as exceeding the proper scope of Petitioner’s Reply.

The technology at issue involved a device and method for pressurized transport of fluidic plugs, or droplets, in microfluidic systems used in chemical and biochemical reactions.  The plug form of transport arises by injecting fluid containing reagents and a fluorinated surfactant into an immiscible fluorinated carrier fluid flowing in non-fluorinated microchannels of a microfluidic system.  Continue Reading

What Claim Construction Standard Applies If a Patent Expires During IPR Appeal?

In Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc., Case No. 2016-1174 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 14, 2017), the Federal Circuit upheld the PTAB’s construction of disputed claim terms, but did not resolve a dispute over whether the broadest-reasonable-interpretation standard (BRI) or Phillips standard should apply when the challenged patent expires shortly after the PTAB issues its final written decision. Despite the correct claim construction, the court vacated the decision and remanded the case to the PTAB for reconsideration of the merits of its decision on obviousness.

Apple filed an IPR petition challenging claims of Personal Web’s patent directed to methods of locating data and controlling access to the data by giving a data file a substantially unique name that depends on the file’s content. In determining that the challenged claims were unpatentable for obviousness, the PTAB construed the claim term “content-based identifier” and related terms, applying the BRI standard. Continue Reading

PTAB Declines to Institute IPR on Immersion’s Indefinite Means Plus Function Claims

Petitioners are finding themselves caught in a Catch-22.  The PTAB declares claims too indefinite under Section 112 to construe, but then declines to address the patentabilty of the claims.  Section 112 deficiencies are not grounds to challenge a patent in an IPR, but the PTAB has authority to find such deficiencies.

Recently, the PTAB decided that only some claims of Immersion Corporation’s U.S. Patent No. 8,659,571 were challengeable by Apple Inc. in an IPR because the ‘571 patent failed to disclose sufficient structure corresponding to the “drive module limitation” recited in claim 12 to determine the scope and meaning of claim 12.  Apple Inc., v. Immersion Corporation, IPR2016-01372, Paper 7 (January 11, 2017). Continue Reading

Your Supplemental Evidence is Timely, but is it Relevant to a Claim at Issue? PTAB Will Decide.

Work in progressOnce a trial has been instituted at the PTAB, a party seeking consideration of supplemental evidence may file a motion in accordance with the following requirements: (1) the request for the authorization to file a motion to submit supplemental information must be made within one month of the date the trial was instituted; and (2) the supplemental information must be relevant to a claim for which the trial was instituted.  37 C.F.R. § 42.123(a). Mere satisfaction of these requirements for filing a motion may not, however, be sufficient to convince the PTAB to grant the motion. Instead, in deciding the motion, the PTAB will use its broad discretion to determine if the proffered supplemental evidence will assist the PTAB in “ensur[ing] efficient administration of the Office and the ability of the Office to complete [trial] proceedings in a timely manner.” See Redline Detection, LLC v. Star Envirotech, Inc., 811 F.3d 435, 445 (Fed. Cir. 2015), and our discussions here and here. Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Dismisses Appeal where IPR Petitioner Lacked Standing to Appeal

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In Phigenix, Inc. v. ImmunoGen, Inc., No. 2016-1544 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 9, 2017), the Federal Circuit dismissed, for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution, a petitioner-appellant’s (Phigenix) appeal of a PTAB final written decision that refused to cancel claims challenged in an IPR. The court’s decision demonstrates that statutory right of appeal from a PTAB final written decision in an inter partes review does not necessarily establish Article III standing for the appeal. Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Upholds Cancellation of Micrografx Patent Claims for Anticipation

In recent non-precedential decisions, Micrografx, LLC v. Google Inc., Case No. 2015-2090 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 29, 2016) (Micrografx I) and Micrografx, LLC v. Google Inc. (Micrografx II), Case No. 2015-2091 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 29, 2016), the Federal Circuit upheld three IPR final written decisions canceling challenged claims of Micrografx patents for anticipation, and denying a motion to amend claims. The court determined that any errors in claim construction were harmless, and that substantial evidence supported the PTAB’s findings of anticipation. Continue Reading

Sovereign Immunity Protects State University Owned Patent from Inter Partes Review

Diploma IconThe Patent and Trial Appeal Board dismissed petitions for inter partes review challenging the claims of a patent owned by a state university that had neither waived the protections offered it by the Eleventh Amendment nor consented to the trial.  Covidien LP v. University of Florida Research Foundation Inc., IPR2016-01274, -01275, -01276 (PTAB Jan. 25, 2017).  Covidien LP filed three IPR petitions seeking review of U.S. Patent No. 7,062,251, which is owned by the University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc. (UFRF).  In response, UFRF filed a motion to dismiss these petitions on the basis that UFRF is immune from being brought before the Board to adjudicate Covidien’s petitions.  In dismissing the petitions, the Board applied Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedent to determine that USRF is an arm of the State of Florida and is thus entitled to invoke sovereign immunity to bar institution of an IPR.  Continue Reading

PTAB Issues First Biotech/Pharma Post-Grant Review Final Written Decision – All Claims Survive

Phenylephrine Hydrochloride (resized)The first final written decision in a post-grant review of a patent arising from Art Unit 1600 issued November 14, 2016, in Altaire Pharm. Inc.. v. Paragon Bioteck, Inc., PGR2015-00011.  PGRs allow challenge based on enablement, written description, indefiniteness, and subject matter eligibility, in addition to the novelty and obviousness bases available in IPRs, permitting petitioners to rely on arguments commonly used to invalidate biotechnology and pharmaceutical patents in litigation.  Here, however, the PTAB instituted PGR based only on obviousness grounds, and ultimately determined that the petitioner did not meet its burden in proving the unpatentability of the challenged claims. Continue Reading

Intuitive to Use Versus Use of an Element for its Intended Purpose – Is There a Difference?

Form Over FunctionIs there a difference between saying that it would be intuitive to use the features of one prior art reference in combination with another, versus saying that such a combination merely uses a prior art element for its established function? According to two recent decisions, the Federal Circuit apparently thinks so.

In In re: Van Os, Case No. 2015-1975 (January 3, 2017), the Court reversed and remanded the Board’s finding of obviousness, rejecting the Board’s conclusion that the combination of prior art references would have been “intuitive.” The case concerned an appeal of the Board’s decision to sustain the patent examiner’s rejection of Apple’s U.S. Patent Application No. 12/364,470 directed to a touchscreen interface in a portable electronic device that allowed a user to rearrange icons on a display. Continue Reading

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