The Patent Office’s Director recently notified the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) of the Office’s intent to set or adjust several fees that patent applicants, patent owners, and those challenging patents in AIA trials must pay. For applicants, this includes fee increases for filing applications and tiered fees for filing terminal disclaimers. This also includes tiered fees for filing continuation applications more than three or seven years after the earliest claimed benefit application was filed. Part of those fees are to offset the lost maintenance fees that patents issuing from those applications would otherwise incur had they been filed and issued earlier—obtaining revenue from maintenance fees purportedly helps reduce examination costs.
PTAB Invalidates GUI, but Leaves Obviousness Test Gooey
On February 9, 2023 the PTAB issued a Final Written Decision in Early Warning Services, LLC and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. v. WePay Global Payments LLC, determining the design claim of US D930,702 (“D’702”) unpatentable, as both anticipated and obvious based on a single reference, Reddy, US 2018/0260806 A1 (“Reddy”). See Consolidated PGR2022-00031 and PGR2022-00045, Paper No. 34. D’702 claimed a display screen having an animated graphical user interface (GUI).
Obvious Variants and the Hand of Fate
Collateral estoppel is a resource-saving shortcut. Judges consider it when an issue previously received sufficient judicial attention. And they apply it when the issue was resolved against the party now seeking, in some way, to circumvent that resolution. In the absence of some intervening change in the law or new evidence, resolution likely would be the same as before. Addressing the issue anew would therefore be a waste of everyone’s resources. So, the judge bars that party from re-litigating the issue and applies the consequences of the prior resolution. Collateral estoppel’s logical simplicity is manifest, but its application is sometimes complicated.
No Weight for Unsupported Expert Witness Testimony
In early February 2023, the Patent Office’s Director designated as precedential the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision in Xerox Corp. v. Bytemark, Inc., IPR2022-00624, Paper 9 (PTAB Aug. 24, 2022). In this decision, the Board denied a petition seeking inter partes review. The petitioner asserted the challenged patent claims were obvious over printed publication prior art. One of the claimed features was not asserted to be disclosed in the published prior art, but rather asserted to be part of an ordinarily skilled artisan’s common knowledge. The Board characterized this as a “conclusory assertion,” and gave little weight to the accompanying expert witness’s declaration cited in support. Why? Because the declaration, according to the Board, “merely repeats, verbatim, the conclusory assertion for which it is offered to support,” and “does not cite to any additional supporting evidence or provide any technical reasoning [in] support.” Id. at 15.
This Seems Absurd, but …
Last year, a district court applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel to dismiss an infringement suit after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board decided to cancel the asserted patent’s claims in an inter partes review. In the ensuing appeal of the court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted the patent owner’s (Jump Rope’s) unopposed motion for summary affirmance. Jump Rope Sys., LLC v. Coulter Ventures, LLC, Appeal 22-1624 (Fed. Cir. June 28, 2022). Jump Rope presented the unopposed motion after the Federal Circuit denied its motion that the court go en banc. Jump Rope had sought a determination by the court as a whole that parallel civil litigation seeking to enforce those canceled claims was not moot and could proceed, potentially to an infringement judgment and consequent remedy. Jump Rope has since presented the same argument to the Supreme Court in a petition for a writ of certiorari. Brief of Petitioner, Jump Rope Sys., LLC v. Coulter Ventures, LLC, Sup. Ct. Dkt. 22-298 (Sept. 26, 2022).
PTAB Concludes Artificial Intelligence Medical Device Patent Is Not Obvious
Artificial Intelligence (AI) typically involves certain common aspects. This includes, for example, training data, AI training algorithm(s) that use the training data to train an AI model, and predictions and/or classifications as output from the trained AI model. Could a person of ordinary skill in the art (e.g., a computer scientist) find it obvious to combine these common aspects to arrive at any given AI-based invention? The Patent Trial and Appeal Board recently answered “no” in its final written decision in Intel Corporation v. Health Discovery Corporation, IPR2021-00552, Paper No. 38 (September 12, 2022). Continue Reading
Rigidly Interpreting Precedents May Foreclose an Equitable Doctrine
The Federal Circuit’s Judge Bryson has been presiding over two district court cases where he decided an important and recurring issue regarding collateral estoppel. In a consolidated order, he refused to apply collateral estoppel to certain fact-finding by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on what prior art publications disclose relative to patent claims the patent owner contends are infringed. IOENGINE, LLC v. PayPal Holdings, Inc., Nos. 18-cv-452-WCB and 18-cv-826-WCB, Dkts. 511 and 450, respectively (D. Del. June 15, 2022) (Memorandum Opinion and Order). Until the Federal Circuit clearly addresses this issue, his decision may influence district judges facing the same issue. Continue Reading
A Decision Poised to Pivot on Credibility
The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Google LLC v. IPA Technologies, Inc., Appeals 2021-1179, -1180, and -1185 (Fed. Cir. May 19, 2022), offers three instructive reminders. First, a publication disqualified from consideration as prior art during prosecution may be resurrected as prior art during an AIA trial. Second, the burden of producing evidence is not static, but rather one that shifts among trial participants. Third, when presented with a “highly relevant evidentiary conflict”—like conflicting fact-witness testimony—the Patent Trial and Appeal Board must resolve it “and make appropriate findings of fact.” Google, Slip Op. at 11. When it doesn’t do this, it’s getting the case back. Continue Reading
Satisfying the Duty of Disclosure in AIA Trials
In ClearOne, Inc. v. Shure Acquisition Holdings, Inc., Appeal 2021-1517, Slip Op. at 2 (Fed. Cir. June 1, 2022), the Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board order that refused to authorize a sanctions motion the petitioner requested after the Board issued its final written decision granting (in relevant part) the patent owner’s motion to substitute claims. As basis for the motion the petitioner alleged the patent owner violated its duty to disclose prior art. Continue Reading
No design patents for you!–Extension of Fox Factory Complicates Reliance on Indicia of Non-Obviousness
In Campbell Soup Co. v. Gamon Plus, Inc., the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s finding that Gamon’s design patents on gravity-fed displays for soup were non-obvious. 10 F.4th 1268 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 19, 2021) (“Gamon II”). As the Supreme Court denied Gamon’s petition for writ of certiorari (in which Gamon argued it did not have an opportunity to request review of the PTAB’s decision by a properly-appointed Director of the USPTO), here’s a closer look at the Federal Circuit’s opinion. Continue Reading