Covered Business Method

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 judgment, which upheld the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) common practice of instituting review on some, but not all challenged claims, and then issuing a final written decision addressing only the claims for which review was instituted.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Decides that IPR Final Decisions Must Address All Challenged Claims

Update: On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a decision, 6-3, reversing the Federal Circuit’s judgment and remanding the case for further proceedings. The Court held that “a federal agency is not a ‘person’ who may petition for post-issuance review under the AIA.” On August 9, 2019, the Federal Circuit issued an order vacating the PTAB’s decision and remanding with instructions that the PTAB dismiss the CBM proceeding for lack of jurisdiction.

PTABWatch Takeaway: When “sued for infringement” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a), the United States has standing to petition the Patent Office to institute Covered Business Method (CBM) review.  Return Mail v. U.S. Postal Service, Appeal 2016-1502 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 28, 2017)


Patentee, Return Mail, Inc., filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Court alleging that the United States, through the actions of the United States Postal Service, used without license the subject matter claimed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,826,548.
Continue Reading The United States Can Have Standing in AIA Proceedings

In Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2016), the Federal Circuit reviewed the final written decisions in CBM reviews of three related patents owned by Ameranth, Inc., directed to computerized systems for generating and displaying menus for use in the restaurant industry.  The court determined that the PTAB properly construed all disputed claim terms, determined that the patents are CBM patents, and determined that most challenged claims were unpatentable under § 101, but that the PTAB erred in concluding that some dependent claims were not unpatentable under § 101.

More specifically, the claims in the disputed Ameranth patents are directed to a “first menu that has categories and items, and software that can generate a second menu from the first menu by allowing categories and items to be selected.” 
Continue Reading PTAB Should Have Canceled All Challenged Claims in CBM Reviews

Red seal and imprint "SANCTIONS" on white surface

On November 10, 2016, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) hosted a panel discussion entitled Ethics in AIA Post-Grant Proceedings at the PTAB with the Honorable Thomas Giannetti, Lead Administrative Patent Judge of the PTAB.

The main topic of the discussion was guidance on motions for sanctions.  The rules relating to trial practice before the PTAB allow the Board to impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, registered practitioner or party that violates the PTAB’s rules after the offending party has had an opportunity to respond.  35 C.F.R. §42.11(d)(1).  The Board has the authority to sanction parties or a party may file a motion for the Board to impose sanctions. 
Continue Reading Guidance on Requesting Motions for Sanctions

Bank vault closeup sideview. 3D Render

In Unwired Planet, LLC v. Google Inc., the Federal Circuit vacated the PTAB’s final decision in a CBM review because the PTAB had applied an overly broad standard to determine that the challenged claims were directed to a “financial product or service” subject to CBM review, and remanded the case for evaluation under the proper standard.

Google had filed a petition for CBM review of Unwired’s patent entitled “Method and System for Managing Location Information for Wireless Communications,” and in particular, claims directed to methods of limiting access to location information for wireless communication devices. According to Google, the patent is eligible for CBM review, and it notes that the specification discusses using the claimed methods to facilitate advertising, which would facilitate financial activity.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Limits Scope of CBM Reviews

Privilege Stamp 1In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published on October 18, 2016, the USPTO proposes to amend the rules of practice before the PTAB to “recognize that, in connection with discovery conducted in certain proceedings at the [USPTO], communications between U.S. patent agents or foreign patent practitioners and their clients are privileged to the same extent as communications between clients and U.S. attorneys.” 81 Fed. Reg. 71653 (Oct. 18, 2016).  The rule would apply to the various PTAB proceedings that entail discovery, including IPRs, PGRs, the transitional program for CBMs, and derivation proceedings.
Continue Reading Proposed Rule to Recognize Patent Agent Privilege in PTAB Proceedings

Isolated on white background with clipping path. 3D render.

In the October 3, 2016, Federal Register, the Patent Office published a notice of proposed rulemaking to adjust various fees the Office charges for its services, including 18% to 56% increases for AIA trial fees (as shown below).

According to the notice, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has received more than 4,700 AIA trial petitions since 2012, and it received over 1,900 in the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2016. In setting the fee structure for administering those trials, the Patent Office had to estimate the demand and workload based on limited data from its administration of inter partes reexamination and interference proceedings.
Continue Reading Patent Office Proposes to Increase AIA Trial Fees

Vancouver, Canada - December 15, 2013: A Lego toy of Gandalf, the Wizard from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Gandalf is a member of the order of the Istari and one of the Maiar of Valinor. He lends counsel and leadership to Bilbo Baggins, the Fellowship of the Ring and the people of Middle Earth.

On July 6, 2016, the PTAB cancelled claims in a patent which had bedeviled more than 250 named defendants in litigation dating back to 2008.  The list of defendants reads like a Who’s Who of financial and commercial businesses, including the nation’s most prominent banks, credit card companies, online stock traders, e-Commerce retailers, cable and telecommunications companies, airlines, and even all twelve of the nation’s Federal Reserve banks.  Any plans the patent owner had to continue its siege of these vast tracts of economic activity were brought to a halt by the PTAB’s final written decision in MasterCard International, Inc. v. Stambler, Case CBM2015-00044, Paper 32 (PTAB 2016), which found that the petitioner, MasterCard, had proven the challenged claims were anticipated by and/or obvious over prior art.
Continue Reading PTAB Finds Motivation to Combine References, but Cancellation Comes Too Late for More than 200 Defendants

Granted v2We previously reported the May 9, 2016, Patent Office’s study that the PTAB rarely grants motions to amend.  There, we explained that patent owners rarely file motions to amend and, even when such motions are filed, the PTAB rarely grants such motions. Last week, in Google Inc. and Apple Inc., v. ContentGuard Holdings, Inc., Case CBM2015-00040, Paper 8 (PTAB June 21, 2016), the PTAB granted a Patent Owner’s motion to amend. This case is thus a rare example of the PTAB’s willingness to grant a motion to amend when the Patent Owner provides detailed arguments evidencing why a proposed, substitute claim is patentable over the “prior art known to the patent owner.”
Continue Reading “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, NO it’s a Granted Motion to Amend.”