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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As we have reported in several recent posts, the PTAB often rigorously evaluates public accessibility when considering non-patent prior art.  Disputes over accessibility are often pivotal because insufficient evidence of accessibility can disqualify a reference as a “printed publication” under § 102.  The Federal Circuit recently expanded on the applicable standard for online publications in a case rooted in computer technology, but the decision provides relevant insights for life science practitioners as well.
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In the chemical and biological arts, it is common for patent challengers to allege obviousness based upon prior art disclosures of ranges combined with “routine optimization” by one skilled in the art.  In E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Synvina C.V., No. 17-1977 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 17, 2018), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s (“Board”) final written decision upholding Synvina’s U.S. Patent No. 8,865,921 (“’921 patent”) as non-obvious, in response to du Pont’s inter partes review (“IPR”) challenge on such grounds.  In particular, in E.I. du Pont, the Court found that the patentee failed to demonstrate that 1) the claimed range produced a new and unexpected result, different in kind and not merely in degree from the prior art, 2) the optimized parameter was not recognized as a result-effective variable, 3) the disclosure of broad ranges did not invite more than routine optimization, or 4) that the prior art taught away from the range.

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This morning, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued its final rule implementing district court-style claim construction at the PTAB, replacing the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard.  The official text of the rule will publish in the Federal Register on October 11, 2018, in final form.  The new rule is not retroactive and will apply to petitions filed on or after the effective date of the final rule, which is Nov. 13, 2018 (i.e., the first federal business day after 30 days from publication). [Note: 30 days from an October 11, 2018 publication falls on Saturday, November 10, 2018, but the PTO’s press release [PDF] reports the effective date as November 13, 2018.]

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The Federal Circuit recently held that a product catalog distributed at a trade show was “publicly accessible,” and therefore qualified as prior art. In Nobel Biocare Services AG, v. Instradent USA, Inc., decided on September 13, 2018, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) finding that a catalog distributed at the International Dental Show (“IDS”) Conference in Cologne, Germany was publicly accessible. The court’s decision in Nobel hinged largely on the testimony of two declarants, one who went to the conference (Zvi Chakir), and another who Chakir gave the catalog to upon his return (Yechiam Hantman).
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Two recent decisions from the PTAB and Federal Circuit signal inter partes review (“IPR”) petitioners to be cautious of approaching too closely the one-year time bar set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). First, on August 14, 2018, the PTAB denied institution of a petition that had been filed more than one year after a related district court complaint had been mailed, but within a year from its receipt. Vizio, Inc. v. ATI Techs. ULC, IPR2018-00560, Paper 7 (PTAB Aug. 14, 2018). Then, on August 16, 2018, the Federal Circuit held that a complaint could trigger the one-year time bar even if that complaint had been dismissed without prejudice. Click-to-Call Techs., LP v. Ingenio, Inc., No. 15–1242, 2018 WL 3893119, at *4 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2018). These decisions reiterate the need for IPR petitioners served with a complaint to approach the one-year bar cautiously when deciding target IPR filing dates.
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