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?
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Previously, Emily Greb posted on the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Inst. Inc. v. Iancu, Dir. U.S. Pat. & Trademark Off., 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018), which held that when the Board institutes an inter partes review, it must decide the patentability of all claims challenged in the IPR.

Now, Emily and Tyler Bowen, with assistance from Gene W. Lee, Bryan D. Beel, and Maria A. Stubbings, have published a short research paper entitled The Supreme Court’s SAS Decision: Has All-Or-Nothing Institution Created A Wave Of Change? [PDF]
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On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court held that a federal agency is not a “person” who can file a petition for review of a patent under one of the three new proceedings created by the America Invents Act (“AIA”).  Return Mail, Inc. v. United States Postal Service, 587 U.S. ____, 2019 WL 2412904, at *3 (U.S. June 10, 2019) (“Return Mail“).  Specifically, the Court held that federal agencies cannot file a petition for inter partes, post-grant, or covered business method review with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) (collectively, “PTAB proceedings”).  Id.
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In an April 11, 2019 order, Judge Andrews of the District of Delaware ruled that a Hatch-Waxman defendant’s obviousness defenses were precluded under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2) even though the barring PTAB decision issued over a year after the court had held an obviousness trial.  Novartis Pharm. Corp. v. Par Pharm., Inc., No. 14-cv-01289 (D. Del. Apr. 11, 2019), Docket No. 198.  Read on for the details.
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On February 20, 2019, the PTAB held that the statutory grace period for PTO papers and fees due on a weekend or federal holiday applies to the one-year deadline for filing IPR petitions under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). Under longstanding PTO practice, the Office has accepted filings after a formal deadline if that deadline fell on a weekend or federal holiday and the filing is completed on the next
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In Amerigen Pharmaceuticals v. UCB Pharmaceuticals, the Federal Circuit held that a generic Abbreviated New Drug Application (“ANDA”) filer with a Paragraph III certification to an Orange Book-listed patent has standing to appeal decisions from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”). Case No. 17-2529, Doc. 54, January 11, 2019 (the “Decision”). In this case, Amerigen was a Petitioner in inter partes review proceedings involving U.S. Patent No. 6,858,650 (“the ’650 patent”). The Board found the challenged claims not unpatentable, and Amerigen appealed. On appeal, UCB argued that Amerigen lacked standing to appeal because Amerigen had filed a Paragraph III certification with its ANDA. The Federal Circuit disagreed.

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IPR petitioners Proppant Express Investments, LLC and Proppant Express Solutions, LLC (collectively, “PropX”) have a pending instituted inter partes review (IPR) on certain claims of U.S. Patent No. 9,511,929 (“the ’929 patent”).  Unfortunately for PropX, it mistakenly grouped its arguments against one of the dependent claims—claim 4—into the wrong ground, which led the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) to deny institution of IPR of that claim, due to inadequate support.  IPR2017-02103, Paper 19 at 32, 34.  After institution, PropX sought to amend the petition to move claim 4 into the proper ground.  The Board denied PropX’s request because PropX was not diligent: despite Patent Owner’s (“Oren”) Preliminary Response pointing out PropX’s mistake, PropX failed to notice the mistake until after institution.  IPR2017-02103, Paper 22.

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