Broadest Reasonable Construction

A patent interference is an adversarial proceeding where each party is trying deprive its opponent of a patent on an invention that that the Patent Office has already decided is patentable. Long after the AIA became effective to phase out interferences, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board continues to declare and administer them where at least one of the parties has an interfering application or patent predating the AIA’s enactment. The Board declares interferences to avoid the embarrassment and marketplace chaos where the Patent Office issues two patents on the same invention to different parties, and to avoid awarding a patent monopoly to the entity who was not the first to invent.
Continue Reading Mine Your Patent Application and You Might Find a Licensee

For AIA trial petitions filed after November 12, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will construe claims challenged and proposed to be amended (narrowed) in these proceedings using the same claim construction standard that is used to construe the claim in a civil action in federal district court. See Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc). In these trials, the Board will also consider claim construction determinations made in proceedings in district courts or the International Trade Commission. A recent Federal Register notice includes the text of rules the Patent Office revised to implement these changes.
Continue Reading Rule Changes Will Advance a Famous Judge Rich Axiom

In Matthews International Corporation v. Vandor Corporation, No. 2017-1889 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 27, 2018) (non-precedential), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final written decision to uphold the claims of Vandor’s patent that Matthews challenged in inter partes review. The claims at issue “are directed to ‘a casket arrangement’ made of pliable material, such as cardboard,” in which side and end panels of the casket can be folded to allow the casket to be reconfigured and condensed for ease in shipping and storage. According to the PTAB and the Court, Matthews failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the claims were anticipated by the prior art, even though the claims may be obvious.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Puts Nail in Coffin For Petitioner’s Case Challenging Casket Patent

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 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 and the International Trade Commission (ITC). The Office also proposes to amend the rules “to add that the Office will consider any prior claim construction determination concerning a term of the involved claim in a civil action, or an ITC proceeding, that is timely made of record in an [AIA trial] proceeding.” Any proposed changes adopted in a final rule would be applied retroactively to pending AIA trials.
Continue Reading Patent Office Proposes to Jettison BRI in AIA Trials

Last fall, the Federal Circuit reversed a PTAB decision that affirmed an Examiner’s rejection of various claims in an ex parte reexamination because the Examiner’s interpretation of the claims, which the PTAB upheld, was unreasonably broad. In re Smith International, Inc., Appeal No. 2016-2303 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 26, 2017). The court’s decision is noteworthy because it reinforces the bounds of the broadest reasonable interpretation claim construction standard the Patent Office must apply when assessing patentability, bounds that do not encompass the broadest possible interpretation.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Again Reminds PTAB that BRI Must Be Reasonable

Two recent Federal Circuit decisions illustrate how an error in construing claims may lead the court to reverse a PTAB final written decision. In Organik Kimya AS v. Rohm & Haas Co., the Federal Circuit determined that the PTAB correctly construed the disputed claim term, “swelling agent,” and therefore affirmed the PTAB’s decisions upholding the patentability of challenged claims directed to processes for preparing emulsion polymers. In contrast, in Owens Corning v. Fast Felt Corp., decided on the same day, the court determined that the PTAB erred in construing the term “roofing or building cover material” too narrowly, and thus reversed the PTAB’s decision canceling claims directed to methods of applying polymer “nail tabs” on roofing and building cover material.  
Continue Reading Error in Claim Construction Leads to Reversal of IPR Decision and Cancelation of Claims

In a split opinion in Homeland Housewares, LLC v. Whirlpool Corporation, the Federal Circuit has again overturned a final written decision issued by the PTAB determining that challenged claims in an IPR were not unpatentable, a development that should at least cast doubt on the validity of patents that survive challenges at the PTAB.

Homeland initially petitioned the PTAB for an inter partes review of all claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,581,688 (“the ’688 patent”), assigned to Whirlpool, arguing that the claims were invalid as anticipated by U.S. Patent No. 6,609,821 (“the ’821 patent”).  
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Overturns PTAB’s Finding of Patent Validity

Worker pouring liquid metal into crucible.

In Rovalma, S. A. Böhler-Edelstahl GmbH & Co., No. 2016-2233 (Fed. Cir. May 11, 2017), the Federal Circuit vacated the PTAB’s final written decision and remanded the case for the PTAB to provide a further explanation for its determination that the challenged claims were obvious. According to the court, the PTAB’s decision lacked sufficient detail necessary for the court to determine if the PTAB’s findings were supported by substantial evidence, or if the PTAB provided the Patent Owner proper notice and opportunity to respond to the PTAB’s claim construction and theory of unpatentability.Continue Reading Owner of Hot-Work Steel Processing Patent Burned by Its Own IPR Evidence

Glass vials for liquid samples. Laboratory equipment for dispensing fluid samples. Shallow depth of field.

IPRs are an attractive option for biosimilar applicants to clear the patent landscape before delving into litigation under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA), which is still in its infancy.  Roche’s Herceptin® (trastuzumab) is a prime target for biosimilar makers, accounting for sales of over $6.5 billion in 2015.  Mylan, Celltrion, and Pfizer, all with competing biosimilar candidates, have filed IPR petitions challenging patents reportedly covering trastuzumab.  Recently, the PTAB granted a petition filed by Hospira (subsidiary of Pfizer) to institute IPR of U.S. Patent No 7,807,799 (“the ’799 patent”), directed to protein A affinity chromatography.  Hospira, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., IPR2016-01837, Paper No. 19 (April 7, 2017).
Continue Reading PTAB Grants Hospira Petition to Institute IPR of Genentech Antibody Purification Patent