In recent years, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has frequently declined to institute IPRs for procedural reasons unrelated to a petition’s substantive strength. In particular, the Board has increasingly denied petitions in view of related, parallel litigation that it perceives as so far advanced that it would be most efficient to deny institution and leave patentability issues to be resolved in the other forum. Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc., IPR2020-00019, Paper 11 (PTAB Mar. 20, 2020) (Precedential). Key among the factors guiding those Fintiv denials is whether and to what extent the other proceeding’s trial date is scheduled to precede the Board’s deadline for issuing a final written decision, i.e., Fintiv factor two. Id. at 9.
An order from the Federal Circuit on October 15 suggests the court may be close to holding that the PTAB has been operating in violation of the Appointments Clause, which could significantly disrupt PTO operations. The case presents important questions: whether the PTAB’s judges have been lawfully appointed, and if not, what happens to decisions that have been issued by panels of those judges?
Continue Reading Constitutional Challenge under the Appointments Clause May Upend PTAB Proceedings