The PTAB Bar Association’s Annual Conference in March included a panel of Administrative Patent Judges who offered commentary on best practices in ex parte appeals from original examination and reexaminations. The participating APJs were Lead Administrative Patent Judge Rae Lynn Guest and Administrative Patent Judge James T. Moore.
Continue Reading PTAB Judges Weigh in on Best Practices for Ex parte Appeals

Incorporation by reference is not sufficient to satisfy specific reference to each prior-filed patent application to be entitled to an earlier priority date (Droplets, Inc. v. E*Trade Bank (887 F.3d 1309 (2018)). This appeal to the Federal Circuit stems from a dispute between Droplets, Inc. and E*TRADE Bank, over a patent (U.S. Patent No. 8,402,115 (“the ’115 Patent”)) owned by Droplets. At issue is the effective filing date of Droplets’ ‘115 patent.
Continue Reading Have You Included Specific Reference to Every Document in Your Priority Claim?

Federal Circuit Affirms Obviousness Decision by Board, Discusses Impact of Standing on Triggering of §315(b)’s Time Bar

In Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. v. F’real Foods, LLC, Appeal No. IPR2016-01107 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 16, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s final written decision in an IPR upholding the patentability of a patent claim under 35 U.S.C. § 103. Additionally, the court discussed but did not determine whether improper standing at the time of filing a complaint might impact the application of the one-year time bar under 35 U.S.C. §315(b). The decision provides a good opportunity for practitioners to brush up on the fundamentals governing obviousness determinations and suggests that the case law surrounding the one-year time-bar under §315(c) may still evolve.
Continue Reading FC Affirms Obviousness Decision by Board Trigger of Time Bar

In E.I du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Synvina C.V., No. 2017-1977 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 17, 2018), the Federal Circuit determined that the IPR petitioner, DuPont, had Article III standing to appeal an IPR final decision, although it had not been accused of infringement of patent owner Synvina’s patent, or engaged in activity that could be accused of infringement. The court explained that a controversy of sufficient immediacy and reality existed because DuPont, an avowed competitor of the patent owner, had taken and planned to take “action that would implicate” the patent under review. Specifically, DuPont had standing because it had built a manufacturing plant capable of operating within the parameters of the patent under review and had planned to engage in activities that could be accused of infringement. The court also noted that the record showed that DuPont had a non-hypothetical risk of infringement liability because the patent owner had refused to grant DuPont a covenant not to sue, and had argued before the PTAB that DuPont copied its patented process. 
Continue Reading Chemical Company Developing Industrial Process Had Standing to Appeal

In Bennett Regulator Guards, Inc. v. Atlanta Gas Light Co., Appeal Nos. 2017-1555, 217-1626 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 28, 2018), the Federal Circuit vacated the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s final written decision in an IPR because institution of the IPR should have been time barred under 35 U.S.C. §315(b).  Additionally, the Federal Circuit declined to consider a challenge to a sanctions order by the Board because the amount of sanctions had not yet been quantified and thus the court lacked jurisdiction to review the order.  The court’s disposition of these issues remind practitioners that procedural timing is just as important as substantive argument in obtaining a desired legal outcome.
Continue Reading Successful IPR Petition Time Barred Under 35 U.S.C. §315(b) by Involuntarily Dismissed Complaint

Update: On March 4, 2019, the Supreme Court granted the Government’s cert. petition to review the Federal Circuit’s judgment in NantKwest, Inc. v. Iancu, discussed in the post below. The Court’s docket for this case is 18-801.

In NantKwest, Inc. v. Iancu, No. 2016-1794 (Fed. Cir. Jul. 27, 2018) (en banc), the Federal Circuit decided en banc that attorneys’ fees are not “expenses” required to be paid by an applicant who appeals an ex parte prosecution case to the Eastern District of Virginia under 35 U.S.C. § 145. A Federal Circuit panel had earlier reached a contrary result, and the court sua sponte vacated the panel decision to take up the issue en banc.
Continue Reading Attorneys’ Fees Not Awardable Expenses in Section 145 Actions

In Praxair Distrib. v. Mallinckrodt Hosp. Pdts., (Fed. Circ. May 16, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s application of the printed matter doctrine in an IPR, and determined that all challenged claims were obvious.

Mallinckrodt’s patent is directed to methods of treating newborns having low blood oxygenation with nitric oxide (NO) gas, “to dilate blood vessels in the lungs and … thereby improve blood oxygenation.” Generally, the claims recite methods of providing medical providers with NO gas, and information relating to treatment with NO.
Continue Reading PTAB Properly Applied the Printed Matter Doctrine

Despite disagreeing with the PTAB’s preferred claim construction, the Federal Circuit in Arendi S.A.R.L. v. Google LLC, Case No. 2016-1249 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 20, 2018) nevertheless determined that the PTAB had correctly canceled the challenged claims.

The Board had offered two, alternative rulings invalidating all claims on obviousness grounds. In its primary ruling, the Board construed the claims after rejecting the argument that a disclaimer was made during prosecution.
Continue Reading PTAB Was Wrong to Ignore an Applicant’s Prosecution Disclaimer Because of Examiner’s Reasons for Allowance

In TF3 Ltd. v. Tre Milano, LLC, Appeal 2016-2285 (Fed. Cir. July 13, 2018), the Federal Circuit reversed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s final written decision canceling claims directed to a hair styling device as anticipated by prior art.  The court concluded that the Board improperly broadened two claim terms beyond the description in the patent specification.  Using the correct claim construction, the court concluded that prior art does not anticipate the claims.  In part, the court relied upon the abbreviation “i.e.” in determining the proper scope of the claim terms. 
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Reverses, i.e. Overturns, Board’s Anticipation Decision Due to Overbroad Claim Construction

The Federal Circuit recently affirmed the PTAB’s decision that tribal immunity cannot be asserted in an IPR (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharma Inc., Case No. 2018-1638 (Fed. Cir. July 20, 2018). On appeal, Allergan, Inc. (“Allergan”) argued that the Board improperly denied its motion to withdraw from IPR proceedings, and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (“the Tribe”) argued that the Board improperly denied its motion to terminate the IPR based on sovereign immunity. See Mylan Pharma Inc. v. Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Case IPR2016-01127, Paper 130 (February 23, 2018) (discussed here).
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Affirms Tribal Sovereign Immunity Does Not Apply to IPR