On August 12, 2016, the Federal Circuit issued an order vacating its decision in In re Aqua Products, Inc., 823 F.3d 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2016), and reinstating the appeal after granting the aggrieved patent owner’s petition for rehearing en banc. We wrote about this decision a few months ago:
The Federal Circuit confirmed in a precedential opinion that the burden to prove patentability of an amended claim in an IPR proceeding rests squarely with the patentee, and in deciding a motion to amend claims, the Board only need consider the arguments presented by the patentee, not perform a full reexamination of the proposed claims. In In re Aqua Products, Inc., Appeal No. 2015-1177 (Fed. Cir. May 25, 2016), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s denial of patentee Aqua’s motion to substitute claims because Aqua failed to prove patentability of the substitute claims.
In the order, the court solicits briefs addressing the following questions:
- When the patent owner moves to amend its claims under 35 U.S.C. § 316(d), may the PTO require the patent owner to bear the burden of persuasion, or a burden of production, regarding patentability of the amended claims as a condition of allowing them? Which burdens are permitted under 35 U.S.C. § 316(e)?
- When the petitioner does not challenge the patentability of a proposed amended claim, or the Board thinks the challenge is inadequate, may the Board sua sponte raise patentability challenges to such a claim? If so, where would the burden of persuasion, or a burden of production, lie?
Following briefing, oral argument is scheduled for December 9, 2016.
Update: On October 4, 2017, an eleven-judge en banc panel of the Federal Circuit issued its decision, vacating and remanding the IPR final decision for the PTAB to determine whether the patent owner’s proposed amended claims are patentable. Seven judges of the court decided that the Patent Office may not—as it has long been doing—place on a patent owner the burden of proving patentability of a claim it moves to amend during an AIA trial. A discussion of the decision can be found here and here.