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Fixing an Appointments Clause Violation

In Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., Appeal 2018-2140 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 31, 2019), the Federal Circuit concluded that the PTAB’s Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) are “principal” officers and their appointment by the Secretary of Commerce therefore violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The issue arose in an appeal of a decision by a panel … Continue Reading

The Chaos of Too Many Rules

The Patent Office issued Honeywell a patent that required correction. The patent, according to Honeywell, did not include the proper claim for the benefit of priority to the filing date of an application that Honeywell had earlier filed. But before Honeywell noticed the error and tried to correct that priority claim, its competitor, Arkema, petitioned … Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Addresses Constitutional Issue Supreme Court Left Open

In consolidated appeals of a trio of Board decisions canceling pre-AIA patents in inter partes reviews (IPR), the Federal Circuit held “that the retroactive application of IPR proceedings to pre-AIA patents is not an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment.” Celgene Corp. v. Peter, Appeals 2018-1167, -1168, -1169, Slip Op. at 3 (Fed. Cir. July … Continue Reading

Estoppel Remains Malleable

A few months ago, in BTG International Ltd. v. Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC, the Federal Circuit invited the Patent Office’s views on the scope of the petitioner estoppel under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2). We noted then that this is an estoppel a district court may apply, but the Patent Office may not. In response to the … Continue Reading

Patent Office Announces New Amendments Procedure for AIA Trials

For AIA trials instituted on or after March 15, 2019, the patent owner may opt-in to a pilot program the Patent Office implemented for motion to amend (“MTA”) practice and procedures in the PTAB’s administration of these trials. Today’s Federal Register (link) includes the Patent Office’s explanation of the program, which it proposed in October … Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Invites Patent Office to Open Pandora’s Box

It is puzzling, if not troubling, that the Federal Circuit recently invited (link) the Patent Office to submit a brief expressing its views on the scope of the petitioner estoppel under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2), a veritable Pandora’s Box. It is puzzling because only the judiciary can apply this estoppel provision, the Patent Office cannot. … Continue Reading

Confusion and Delay

In Oil States Energy Services., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, Justice Thomas, writing for a 7-2 majority of the Supreme Court, explained that inter partes review proceedings do not violate Article III or the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution. 138 S. Ct. 1365 (2018). But his opinion for the majority invited confusion and delay, … Continue Reading

No Mandamus Relief from Shenanigan-less Non-institution Decision

Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Federal Circuit will not review Patent Trial and Appeal Board decisions refusing to institute inter partes review. The statute and a 2016 Supreme Court decision prohibit such review. 35 U.S.C. § 314(d); Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC v. Lee, 136 S. Ct. 2131, 2140–42 (2016) (clarifying, however, that appellate review is appropriate … Continue Reading

Trial Practice Guide Updates and Future Fee Increases

Today’s Federal Register includes a notice that the Patent Office updated its August 2012 Trial Practice Guide. The Federal Circuit recently noted that the Practice Guide “is a thoughtful and useful resource to which individual Board members and the public might turn for guidance,” but “is not binding on Board panel members.” Application in Internet … Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Admonishes PTAB for Taking Short-cuts

In Application in Internet Time v. RPX Corp., Nos. 2017-1698, -1699, -1701 (Fed. Cir. July 9, 2018), the Federal Circuit decided that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board “applied an unduly restrictive test for determining whether a person or entity is a ‘real party in interest’ within the meaning of [35 USC] § 315(b) and … Continue Reading

No SAS-based Relief on Appeal, Unless Requested

Left in the wake of the Supreme Court’s SAS decision (discussed here) are a number of appeals pending before the Federal Circuit concerning Patent Trial and Appeal Board final written decisions in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings administered on a subset of claims and grounds presented in the IPR petition. While litigants before the Board … Continue Reading

Patent Office Proposes to Jettison BRI in AIA Trials

The Patent Office today issued a press release of its notice of proposed rulemaking that would replace the broadest reasonable interpretation standard the Patent Trial and Appeal Board applies to construe unexpired patent claims and proposed substitute (amended) claims in AIA trial proceedings with the Phillips standard applied in patent cases before federal district courts … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Decides that IPR Final Decisions Must Address All Challenged Claims

On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its decision in SAS Institute, Inc. v. Iancu, holding that if the Patent Office institutes an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding, it must issue a final written decision with respect to the patentability of every patent claim challenged by the petitioner. The Court reversed the Federal Circuit’s … Continue Reading

Play the Claim

Monsanto Technology LLC v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Appeal 2017-1032 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 5, 2018), illustrates “[t]he life of a patent solicitor has always been a hard one.” [1] The case concerns an inter partes reexamination of a Monsanto patent in which the Patent Office concluded the claimed subject matter was inherently described in an … Continue Reading

ODP Dooms CIP

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 … 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 … Continue Reading

Petitioners Will Pay More for Immensely Popular AIA Trials

In the November 14, 2017, Federal Register, the Patent Office issued its final rule setting and adjusting the fees the Office charges for its products and services, including relatively substantial increases for standard AIA trial fees (as shown below). As a simple example, a petitioner challenging all claims of a patent containing 30 claims will … Continue Reading

Fractured Federal Circuit Reallocates Burden of Proof in AIA Trials

An eleven-judge en banc panel of the Federal Circuit issued its long awaited decision in Aqua Products, Inc. v. Matal, Appeal 2015-1777, on October 4, 2017, vacating and remanding the IPR final decision for the PTAB to determine whether the patent owner’s proposed amended claims are patentable. The court’s decision includes five separate opinions, though … Continue Reading

Interim Director Matal Expresses High Confidence in Constitutionality of AIA Trials

An updated discussion of this issue is available here: The Supreme Court Finds IPR Proceedings Constitutional Joe Matal, interim director of the Patent Office, addressed the IPO’s 45th Annual Meeting on September 19, 2017, in San Francisco. He said that the Office, and particularly the PTAB, experienced a productive yet tumultuous five years since the … Continue Reading

Adding Two More to the List of Serious Questions about AIA Trials

In a routine AIA trial, the PTAB determined that challenged claims in a patent directed to HVAC systems were unpatentable as being obvious and anticipated by prior art. This trial was unusual, however, because the Board premised its anticipation conclusion on a joined IPR petition that successfully rectified evidentiary deficiencies in the same petitioner’s earlier … Continue Reading

Reluctant to Reverse, the Federal Circuit Offers the PTAB a Mulligan

The Federal Circuit recently vacated the PTAB’s decisions in three interferences. Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Jr. Univ. v. Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong, Appeal 2015-2011 (Fed. Cir. June 27, 2017). These interferences concern which parties’ inventors first conceived methods for diagnosing fetal aneuploidies using cell-free fetal DNA from maternal blood samples. The PTAB … Continue Reading
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