Precedential and Informative Board Decision on Serial IPR Petitions

Serial IPR petitions directed to previously-challenged patents account for many of the petitions filed with the PTAB; however, 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) provides the Board with discretion to reject petitions where the same, or substantially the same, prior art or arguments have already been presented to the USPTO.  The Board recently designated as precedential part of its decision in General Plastic Industrial Co. v. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, Case IPR2016-01357, Paper 19 (6 September 2017), addressing factors to be considered in determining whether to institute review for a serial, or “follow-on” petition.  Petitioner General Plastic filed a first set of petitions seeking IPR of U.S. Patent No. 9,046,820 B1 (“the ’820 patent”) and U.S. Patent No. 8,909,094 B2 (“the ’094 patent”).  Institution of a trial was denied for each petition based upon the merits. Continue Reading

Join the Party! CAFC Hears IPR Appeal From Parties That Were Time-Barred From Filing Petition

Research Corporation Technologies, Inc. (RCT) sued Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Mylan), Breckenridge Pharmaceutical, Inc. (Breckinridge), and Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (Alembic), in federal district court, accusing them of infringing United States Reissued Patent No. RE38,551. The patent claims pharmaceutical compositions useful in the treatment of epilepsy and other central nervous system disorders. Within one year of being served with the infringement complaint, Breckenridge alone petitioned the PTAB to institute inter partes review of the patent, but the PTAB denied the petition on its merits. Continue Reading

PTAB Gets A Math Lesson

In Shinn Fu Co. of America, Inc. v. The Tire Hanger Corp., Dkt. No. 2016-2250 (Fed. Cir. July 3, 2017), Shinn Fu appealed the Board’s holding in IPR2015-00208 (discussed here), a rare case in which the PTAB granted a motion to amend, and determined that substitute claims 6-10 of USPN 6,681,897 were patentable.  The claims are drawn to methods of changing the wheels of vehicles on lifts without the operator having to bend while supporting the wheel. Continue Reading


In re Janssen Biotech, Inc., Appeal 2017-1257 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 23, 2018), is a cautionary tale concerning patents protecting a blockbuster drug providing patients an important therapy and bringing its owners billions of dollars in annual revenue. It began twenty-five years ago with a then-unremarkable decision to file a patent application. The filed application was of a type that others then also filed—and some may still be filing today. The Patent Office issued that application, without proper examination it turns out, as a patent. Under the circumstances of this case, this type of patent, the courts and Patent Office have since determined, is invalid for obviousness-type double patenting. Continue Reading

A Split Federal Circuit Panel “at Once Envisaged” Different Conclusions of Anticipation

Can the disclosure in a prior art reference be too extensive for the art not to anticipate? According to a recent decision, the Federal Circuit apparently thinks so.

In Microsoft Corp. v. Biscotti Inc., Case Nos. 2016-2080, -2082, -2083 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 28, 2017), a split Federal Circuit panel affirmed a Board’s decision—also a split decision with one judge dissenting—that the contested claims were not invalid for anticipation, determining that the factual findings of the Board’s majority were supported by substantial evidence. But, in dissent, Judge Newman criticizes the panel majority for misperceiving the law of anticipation and finding that a person of skill in the art would not “at once envisage” the claimed arrangement of limitations due to the breadth of disclosure in the prior art. Continue Reading

Avoid Creating Bad Blood with the Board

The Board recently denied a post grant review petition because the challenge was deemed redundant of the Patent Office’s earlier examination of similar claims in a related application. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. v. Complete Entertainment Resources  B.V., Case No. PGR2017-00038 (PTAB January 16, 2018). The decision offers a cautionary tale for patent practitioners.  The Board learned of the earlier examination from the patent owner, not the petitioner who was obliged to advise the Board of “related matters.” Continue Reading

Patent Owner Estoppel May Apply When Patent Owner Cancels Claims Before IPR Institution

In Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., No. 2017-1239 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 24, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s entry of adverse judgment against Patent Owner Arthrex, before instituting inter partes review. Specifically, the PTAB entered judgment after Arthrex had disclaimed all challenged claims, but before the PTAB decided whether to institute a trial. As a result of the PTAB’s adverse judgment, the Patent Owner is estopped, under 37 C.F.R. § 42.73(d)(3)(1), from obtaining another claim in a continuation application, for example, that is “not patentably distinct” from a canceled claim. Estoppel would not have applied if the PTAB would have instead decided not to institute the IPR. Continue Reading

PTAB Defines Further Limitation to Sovereign Immunity Defense

PTABWatch Takeaway: Sovereign immunity is not available to dismiss an IPR challenge where the Patent Owner has filed an infringement action against the Petitioner. Ericsson v. Regents of the University of Minnesota, IPR2017-01186, -01197, -01200, -01213, -01214, and -01219 (Dec. 19, 2017).

The Eleventh Amendment was rarely mentioned in the same breath as patent law until last year, which began with the Board’s decision in Covidien LP v. University of Florida Research Foundation Inc., IPR2016-01274, -01275, -01276 (Jan. 25, 2017), discussed here. In Covidien, the Board dismissed petitions for IPR challenging the claims of a patent owned by the University of Florida Research Foundation, determining that the university is an arm of the state and entitled to invoke sovereign immunity to bar IPR institution. Sovereign immunity does not shield against any and all challenges, however. In Reactive Surfaces Ltd., LLP v. Toyota Motor Corp., Case No. IPR2017-00572 (July 13, 2017), discussed here, the Board acknowledged that sovereign immunity may be asserted by a state university in an IPR, but held that an IPR may continue against a non-sovereign co-owner of the challenged patent. Continue Reading

PTAB’s Time Bar Determinations Are Reviewable by the Federal Circuit

In Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corporation, an en banc panel of the Federal Circuit decided on January 8, 2018, that the PTAB’s application of the 35 U.S.C § 315(b) time bar to institution of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings is reviewable on appeal. The decision overrules Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., 803 F.3d 652 (Fed. Cir. 2015), which held to the contrary. The decision is important because, in the context of an appeal of a PTAB final written decision, patent owners may now raise the issue of whether an IPR was improperly instituted due to the § 315(b) time bar.

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