In Google Inc. v. Intellectual Ventures II LLC, Appeal 2016-1543, 2016-1545 (Fed. Cir. July 10, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final written decision canceling some claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,121,960, but vacated the portion of the decision that refused to cancel other claims.  With respect to the upheld claims, the court remanded the matter because the PTAB failed to adequately explain its findings, noting that the PTAB’s “disagreement with [the petitioner] … does not amount to a satisfactory explanation for its finding” that those claims are not unpatentable.  Google at 12.
Continue Reading Attorney Argument Doesn’t Provide Substantial Evidence To Support PTAB

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In Wasica Finance GmbH v. Continental Automotive Sys., Inc., (Fed. Cir. Apr. 4, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part and reversed-in-part two PTAB final written decisions cancelling some but not all challenged claims  of U.S. Patent No. 5,602,524 (“the ‘524 patent”). The PTAB and court decisions are interesting because together they highlight the consequence of not supporting seemingly strong arguments with expert witness testimony. Further, the decisions highlight the consequence of not explaining how facts implicate esoteric nuances in the patent laws.Continue Reading Federal Circuit Signals that PTAB Correctly Construed Most Signal Terms but Misconstrued one Other

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In the latest development in the ongoing patent battle between Google and SimpleAir Inc., a Federal Circuit panel agreed with SimpleAir that Google waived a claim construction it asserted on appeal because Google had failed to argue that construction before the PTAB.

SimpleAir originally asserted a series of patents against Google, including U.S. Patent No. 8,601,154 (“the ’154 patent”) directed to a data communication system connecting on-line networks with on-line and off-line computers. Google challenged the validity of the ’154 patent in an IPR.  The PTAB determined the challenged claims of the ’154 patent were not invalid, concluding that Google failed to identify in the prior art “a central broadcast server,” recited in the challenged claims.  Google appealed the PTAB’s final written decision, and argued that the PTAB erred in its interpretation of this limitation.  
Continue Reading Failing to Articulate Desired Claim Construction Before PTAB May Lead to Waiver

Business people standing in line under a magnifying glass, as a metaphor for employee performance evaluation, EPS 8 vector illustration, no transparencies The House of Representatives recently sent to the Senate its bill (H.R.5) that combines six previous regulatory reform bills, including, as Title II of the bill, the “Separation of Powers Restoration Act.”  Section 202 of the bill effectively removes the option for courts to apply Chevron deference to agency rulemaking and interpretations.  Thus, rather than deciding whether a regulation is permissible as reasonably related to the purposes of the enabling legislation, by amending 5 U.S.C. § 706, the bill will require a reviewing court to “decide de novo all relevant questions of law, including the interpretation of constitutional and statutory provisions, and rules made by agencies.”  To eliminate any doubt about its intent, the amendment specifically states that the court shall not interpret any gap or ambiguity in a statue or regulatory provision as an implicit delegation of legislative rulemaking authority to an agency, and the court shall not defer to an agency’s interpretation on a question of law.  As a result, rather than simply deciding whether an agency’s construction of silent or ambiguous statutory provisions are permissible as a matter of statutory interpretation, the reviewing court must make its own, independent interpretation.  The change in the statute would mean that prior court approvals of agency rules, applying Chevron deference, will not dictate the outcome of future challenges under the doctrine of stare decisis.
Continue Reading Pending Bill Would Deliver More Judicial Scrutiny to USPTO and FDA Rules

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In MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC v. Ricoh Americas Corp., Appeal 2016-1243 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 13, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final written decision canceling all eight claims in U.S. Patent No. 8,488,173. The patent issued from an application that was the tenth continuation-in-part of a 20-year-old application that relies for priority on seven provisional applications. The decision may be noteworthy if only because it highlights how seemingly-minor changes to these applications over time influenced the PTAB’s interpretation of certain claim terms—an interpretation that finally led the PTAB and court to conclude the claims were not patentable, just as the patent is about to expire.
Continue Reading Claims Construed and Canceled as Patent Nears its Expiration Date

In Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc., Case No. 2016-1174 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 14, 2017), the Federal Circuit upheld the PTAB’s construction of disputed claim terms, but did not resolve a dispute over whether the broadest-reasonable-interpretation standard (BRI) or Phillips standard should apply when the challenged patent expires shortly after the PTAB issues its final written decision. Despite the correct claim construction, the court vacated the decision and remanded the case to the PTAB for reconsideration of the merits of its decision on obviousness.

Apple filed an IPR petition challenging claims of Personal Web’s patent directed to methods of locating data and controlling access to the data by giving a data file a substantially unique name that depends on the file’s content. In determining that the challenged claims were unpatentable for obviousness, the PTAB construed the claim term “content-based identifier” and related terms, applying the BRI standard.
Continue Reading What Claim Construction Standard Applies If a Patent Expires During IPR Appeal?

Petitioners are finding themselves caught in a Catch-22.  The PTAB declares claims too indefinite under Section 112 to construe, but then declines to address the patentabilty of the claims.  Section 112 deficiencies are not grounds to challenge a patent in an IPR, but the PTAB has authority to find such deficiencies.

Recently, the PTAB decided that only some claims of Immersion Corporation’s U.S. Patent No. 8,659,571 were challengeable by Apple Inc. in an IPR because the ‘571 patent failed to disclose sufficient structure corresponding to the “drive module limitation” recited in claim 12 to determine the scope and meaning of claim 12.  Apple Inc., v. Immersion Corporation, IPR2016-01372, Paper 7 (January 11, 2017).
Continue Reading PTAB Declines to Institute IPR on Immersion’s Indefinite Means Plus Function Claims

In recent non-precedential decisions, Micrografx, LLC v. Google Inc., Case No. 2015-2090 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 29, 2016) (Micrografx I) and Micrografx, LLC v. Google Inc. (Micrografx II), Case No. 2015-2091 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 29, 2016), the Federal Circuit upheld three IPR final written decisions canceling challenged claims of Micrografx patents for anticipation, and denying a motion to amend claims. The court determined that any errors in claim construction were harmless, and that substantial evidence supported the PTAB’s findings of anticipation.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Upholds Cancellation of Micrografx Patent Claims for Anticipation

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The Federal Circuit recently vacated PTAB final written decisions that rested on a claim construction contradicted by the patent’s prosecution history. Specifically, in D’Agostino v. Mastercard Int’l Inc., No. 2016-1592, 2016-1593 (Fed. Cir. December 22, 2016), the court vacated the Board’s IPR decisions of unpatentability of method claims in two patents directed to processes for generating limited-use transaction codes to be given to a merchant by a customer for the purchase of goods and services.  The court determined that the Board’s decisions rested on an unreasonable claim interpretation of a “single-merchant” claim limitation, noting that, contrary to the Board’s claim interpretation, “[t]he prosecution history reinforces the evident meaning of the single-merchant limitation as requiring limiting, to one, the number of merchants that may use the transaction code, without identifying the merchant.” The court’s decision serves as a good example of how the prosecution history may aid a patentee in defending against patentability challenges in AIA trials.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Vacates Board’s Decision Cancelling Method Claims

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