In a previous post, we reported that in Proppant Express Investments v. Oren Techs., a panel of the PTAB held that 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) allows only joinder of other parties to an IPR, and not same-party joinder of new patentability issues.  See IPR2018-00914, Paper 21 at 4-6.

In a recent order, the PTAB’s new Precedential Opinion Panel decided to review the Proppant holding on issue joinder, which appeared to differ from earlier rulings in similar cases.  The Panel expressly noted that “Board decisions conflict on the proper interpretation of 35 U.S.C. § 315(c)”:

Compare, e.g., Target Corp. v. Destination Maternity Corp., Case IPR2014-00508 (Paper 28) (Feb. 12, 2015) (concluding that 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) permits a petitioner to be joined to a proceeding in which it is already a party), with SkyHawke Techs., LLC v. L&H Concepts, LLC, Case IPR2014-01485 (Paper 13) (Mar. 20, 2015) (reaching opposite conclusion).
IPR2018-00914, Paper 24 at 2.  The Panel will include Andrei Iancu, Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner of Patents, and Scott Boalick, Acting Chief Judge of the PTAB.
The Panel will address three questions related to issue joinder:
  1. Under 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) may a petitioner be joined to a proceeding in which it is already a party?
  2. Does 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) permit joinder of new issues into an existing proceeding?
  3. Does the existence of a time bar under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b), or any other relevant facts, have any impact on the first two questions?

IPR2018-00914, Paper 24 at 2.  The parties and any amicus curiae may submit briefs, of no more than 15 pages, no later than December 28, 2018.  Id. at 3.  The parties may then file response briefs, of no more than 10 pages, no later than January 14, 2019.  Id.

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.

Continue Reading PTAB Holds that 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) Prevents Same-Party Joinder of Issues to An Instituted IPR

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.]

Continue Reading USPTO Issues Claim Construction Final Rule for Patent Office Trials – In with Phillips, Out with BRI

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). Continue Reading Federal Circuit again finds product catalog distributed at trade show to be “publicly accessible”

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. Continue Reading Cautionary Tale to IPR Petitioners: Avoid Time Bar Pitfalls

On August 27, 2018, the Federal Circuit in Ericsson Inc. v. Intellectual Ventures I LLC, vacated the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) final written decision in an inter partes review (IPR) and remanded for the PTAB to properly consider all portions of the petitioner’s reply.  No. 17-1521, slip op. at 13 (Aug. 27, 2018). Continue Reading Arguments in Reply that Expand on Previously Argued Rationale Should Be Considered by the PTAB

On August 13, 2018, the PTO published a public notice announcing the first update to the Office Patent Trial Practice Guide since its original introduction in August 2012. The update adds or substantially revises several procedural guidelines for trial proceedings—most notably, the Board will now permit sur-replies under the standard scheduling order in most cases. The update also addresses the role of expert testimony, motions to exclude and motions to strike, live testimony at oral hearing, and factors affecting the Board’s discretion to decline institution.

The August 2018 update to the Trial Practice Guide is available here, and the original 2012 Trial Practice Guide remains available here.

Details on key provisions in the Trial Practice Guide update are provided below. Continue Reading PTAB Issues Substantial Updates to the Patent Trial Practice Guide

We wrote previously regarding Incyte Corp. v. Concert Pharms., Inc., IPR2017-01256, in which the Board reached different conclusions regarding the availability of two pieces of prior art, over a dissent by Judge Fitzpatrick.  Regarding art referred to as the Concert Backgrounder, the Board’s earlier ruling found public accessibility where the Backgrounder was 1) identified on a cached WebCite page, 2) cited in an International Search Report for a patent application, and 3) used in a law review article that cited the WebCite page.  In a new decision in the same case, the Board ruled on Petitioner’s motion for additional discovery regarding public availability of the Concert Backgrounder, granting the discovery in part.  Interestingly, the Board declined to allow discovery that it viewed as changing the Petitioner’s theory of public availability of the art. Continue Reading Granting A Motion For Discovery, Board Bars Changes In Theory Of The Evidence