PTABWatch Blog

http://www.ptabwatch.com/author/sandippatel/

PTABWatch, provided by Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, analyzes and reports recent developments concerning Post-Grant Proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), including Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post Grant Review (PGR), and Covered Business Method (CBM) proceedings.

Recent Blog Posts

  • 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 no majority opinion. The salient take-away, as Circuit Judge O’Malley’s opinion for a five-judge plurality concludes, is that “very little said over the course of... More
  • Interim Director Matal Expresses High Confidence in Constitutionality of AIA Trials 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 passage of the AIA, and acknowledged that the Federal Circuit’s docket of appeals today is dominated by the PTAB’s decisions in AIA trials. He expressed high confidence that the Supreme Court will soon determine, unanimously, that these trials do not violate... More
  • 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 IPR petition, which the Board granted only on obviousness grounds. The later IPR petition would have been time-barred but for the Board’s conclusion, according to... More
  • 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 concluded that two patents it issued to Stanford’s inventors and their pending application lacked an adequate description of the interfering invention and, thus, entered judgment... More
  • Supreme Court to Decide Whether IPRs Violate Article III and the Seventh Amendment The Supreme Court issued an order on June 12, 2017, indicating it will review the Federal Circuit’s judgment in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Green’s Energy Group, LLC, 639 Fed. Appx. 639 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (link).  The petition presented three questions, of which the Court will address only one: Whether inter partes review—an adversarial process used by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to analyze the validity of existing patents—violates the Constitution by extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article... More
  • Supreme Court to Decide Whether PTAB May Institute/Decide AIA Trials on Fewer than All Challenged Claims The Supreme Court issued an order on May 22, 2017, granting SAS Institute’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review the Federal Circuit’s judgment in SAS Institute, Inc. v. ComplementSoft, LLC, 825 F.3d 1341 (Fed. Cir.), reh’g en banc denied, 842 F.3d 1223 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (order). According to its typical practice, the PTAB instituted an AIA trial on a subset of ComplementSoft’s patent claims that SAS challenged in an inter partes review petition. The PTAB eventually issued a final written... More
  • Federal Circuit to PTAB: Prior Art Cannot Anticipate Absent Disclosure of All Claimed Features In Nidec Motor Corp. v. Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co., No. 2016-1900 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 14, 2017), the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion explaining that a prior art reference cannot anticipate a patent claim if the reference does not disclose all claimed features. That straightforward explanation of black letter law was prompted by a PTAB decision that effectively concluded otherwise and, accordingly, canceled a claim of a patent owned by Nidec Motor Corporation. The opinion is important because it clarifies... More
  • Claims Construed and Canceled as Patent Nears its Expiration Date 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... More
  • District Court Interprets the IPR Estoppel Provision Narrowly Update (Jan. 13, 2017): The Delaware district court issued a short order on Jan. 11, 2017, maintaining the court’s earlier decision discussed in the post below. An AIA trial is a relatively-inexpensive, partial substitute for challenging the validity of a patent. Yet, prospective AIA trial petitioners routinely struggle with the potential estoppel effect of not raising prior art before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Petitioners concerned about that issue may be encouraged by a recent Delaware district court decision interpreting the statutory... More
  • The Federal Circuit’s Disagreement About What Constitutes “Substantial Evidence” As a standard of appellate review, “substantial evidence” is not peculiar to the Federal Circuit’s review of patent decisions from district courts and the Patent Office. All circuit courts are familiar with that review standard. They apply it routinely in deciding appeals. The standard originated with appeals of jury verdicts, in recognition of the role of credibility at trial. Under this standard, a judge determines not whether a jury’s decision was correctly made, but whether its decision could reasonably have... More