AIA Estoppel – 7 Things We Know So Far

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When the America Invents Act was enacted, one of the biggest questions facing petitioners was the scope of the estoppel set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 315(e). While IPR was expected to provide a cheaper, more efficient method of challenging the validity of a patent, what would the challenger be giving up?

The statute provides that for any patent claim addressed in a final written IPR decision the petitioner (or real party in interest), may not request, maintain, or assert that any such claim is invalid on a ground that the petitioner “raised or reasonably could have raised” during the IPR in any proceeding before the patent office, or in any action in the district courts or the ITC. 35 U.S.C. § 315(e). The legislative history of the statute suggests that Congress intended a broad application of estoppel. See, e.g., 157 Cong. Rec. S1375, 1358 (Daily Ed. March 8, 2011) (Statement of Senator Grassley) (indicating that inter partes review “will completely substitute for at least the patents-and-printed publications portion of the civil litigation”).

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Supreme Court to Decide Whether PTAB May Institute/Decide AIA Trials on Fewer than All Challenged Claims

Front facade of the US Supreme Court building in Washington DC. Words "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW" are clearly visible right above the columns. Vivid blue sky with clouds is in background.The Supreme Court issued an order on May 22, 2017, granting SAS Institute’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review the Federal Circuit’s judgment in SAS Institute, Inc. v. ComplementSoft, LLC, 825 F.3d 1341 (Fed. Cir.), reh’g en banc denied, 842 F.3d 1223 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (order).

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Claim Construction Sends Duke’s Patent Back to PTAB for Reconsideration, In Part a recent appeal from a PTAB final written decision, the Federal Circuit reversed the Board’s determination that all claims of a Duke patent were unpatentable (Duke Univ. v. BioMarin Pharm. Inc., Appeal No. 2016-1106 (Fed. Cir., April 25, 2017). The court concluded that certain of the Board’s claim constructions were incorrect, and that others, while appropriate, were mis-applied and reversed the Board’s decision on anticipation, as well as obviousness of some claims.

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Owner of Hot-Work Steel Processing Patent Burned by Its Own IPR Evidence

Worker pouring liquid metal into crucible.

In Rovalma, S. A. Böhler-Edelstahl GmbH & Co., No. 2016-2233 (Fed. Cir. May 11, 2017), the Federal Circuit vacated the PTAB’s final written decision and remanded the case for the PTAB to provide a further explanation for its determination that the challenged claims were obvious. According to the court, the PTAB’s decision lacked sufficient detail necessary for the court to determine if the PTAB’s findings were supported by substantial evidence, or if the PTAB provided the Patent Owner proper notice and opportunity to respond to the PTAB’s claim construction and theory of unpatentability.

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Federal Circuit Signals that PTAB Correctly Construed Most Signal Terms but Misconstrued one Other

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In Wasica Finance GmbH v. Continental Automotive Sys., Inc., (Fed. Cir. Apr. 4, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part and reversed-in-part two PTAB final written decisions cancelling some but not all challenged claims  of U.S. Patent No. 5,602,524 (“the ‘524 patent”). The PTAB and court decisions are interesting because together they highlight the consequence of not supporting seemingly strong arguments with expert witness testimony. Further, the decisions highlight the consequence of not explaining how facts implicate esoteric nuances in the patent laws.

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Failing to Articulate Desired Claim Construction Before PTAB May Lead to Waiver

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In the latest development in the ongoing patent battle between Google and SimpleAir Inc., a Federal Circuit panel agreed with SimpleAir that Google waived a claim construction it asserted on appeal because Google had failed to argue that construction before the PTAB.

SimpleAir originally asserted a series of patents against Google, including U.S. Patent No. 8,601,154 (“the ’154 patent”) directed to a data communication system connecting on-line networks with on-line and off-line computers. Google challenged the validity of the ’154 patent in an IPR.  The PTAB determined the challenged claims of the ’154 patent were not invalid, concluding that Google failed to identify in the prior art “a central broadcast server,” recited in the challenged claims.  Google appealed the PTAB’s final written decision, and argued that the PTAB erred in its interpretation of this limitation.   Continue Reading

To Establish Entitlement to an Earlier Effective Filing Date, Every Claim Limitation Must be Addressed

The PTAB’s final written decision in Inguran, LLC d/b/a Sexing Techs. v. Premium Genetics (UK) LTD., Case PGR2015-00017, Paper 22 (PTAB 2016), illustrates what a Patent Owner must do to demonstrate that a challenged claim is entitled to an earlier effective filing date in an AIA trial.

The PGR involved U.S. Patent 8,933,395, which issued from an application filed on January 31, 2014, that was a continuation of pre-AIA patent applications filed before March 15, 2013, with the same text as those prior applications. As we explained in our prior post, the PTAB instituted PGR of claims 1-14, despite the patent’s claimed pre-AIA effective filing date. The PTAB found, at that institution phase, that claim 2 of the patent was only entitled to a post-AIA effective filing date and, thus, the entire patent and all of its challenged claims were eligible for PGR.  The PTAB instituted review on multiple grounds, including anticipation by each of Mueth, Frontin-Rollet, and Durack. Continue Reading

Presentation Not Qualified as a Printed Publication Because Audience Lacked Expertise

In a recent final written decision (Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania v. Coalition for Affordable Drugs VIII, LLC, IPR2015-01835, Paper No. 56 (PTAB Mar. 6, 2017)), the Board determined that the Coalition for Affordable Drugs (“Petitioner”) failed to demonstrate that claims 1-10 of U.S. Patent No. 8,618,135 (“the ’135 patent) were obvious. The claims recite methods of treating a subject suffering from a disorder associated with hyperlipidemia and/or hypercholesterolemia. Petitioner asserted these claims were obvious because the alleged prior art taught applying step-wise escalating doses of a microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) inhibitor to treat hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia. As in cases we have previously discussed here and here, the Petitioner failed to satisfy its burden of proof because it did not show that the alleged prior art qualified as a “printed publication.” Continue Reading

PTAB Grants Hospira Petition to Institute IPR of Genentech Antibody Purification Patent

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IPRs are an attractive option for biosimilar applicants to clear the patent landscape before delving into litigation under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA), which is still in its infancy.  Roche’s Herceptin® (trastuzumab) is a prime target for biosimilar makers, accounting for sales of over $6.5 billion in 2015.  Mylan, Celltrion, and Pfizer, all with competing biosimilar candidates, have filed IPR petitions challenging patents reportedly covering trastuzumab.  Recently, the PTAB granted a petition filed by Hospira (subsidiary of Pfizer) to institute IPR of U.S. Patent No 7,807,799 (“the ’799 patent”), directed to protein A affinity chromatography.  Hospira, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., IPR2016-01837, Paper No. 19 (April 7, 2017). Continue Reading

Evidence of Secondary Considerations Fails to Establish Nexus to Challenged Claims

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In IPR 2016-00039, Costco challenged claims 1, 12 and 14 of USPN 7,228,588 owned by Bosch and drawn to beam (non-yoked) windshield wipers with spoilers to keep the wipers in contact with the windshield in high winds.  Petitioner combined one reference with each of two other references in support of obviousness challenges to the claims. In defense of the claims, Patent Owner relied on evidence in the challenged patent and on expert testimony.  The Board found PO’s evidence contradicted by other evidence of record and found PO’s expert testimony related to challenged patents not at issue in this IPR.  Further, the Board found that evidence of secondary considerations of non-obviousness was insufficiently developed and held the challenged claims unpatentably obvious. Continue Reading