Section 325(d) gives the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) discretion to deny a post-grant petition when “the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office.”  35 U.S.C. § 325(d).  Both the PTAB and the Federal Circuit have opined on the discretionary denial provisions in 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) in the context of serial inter partes review (“IPR”) petitions.  The Federal Circuit has now held that § 325(d) applies to requests for ex parte reexamination.  This decision did not involve biotechnological subject matter, but the holdings are nevertheless applicable.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Applies § 325(d) to Reexamination Requests

In an inter partes review proceeding, the petitioner first files a petition to challenge the validity of a patent. In response to the petition, the patent owner can file a POPR. Typically, the PTAB then decides whether to institute an IPR trial. In recent years, the rules have provided petitioners with an option to reply to the POPR. But such replies are not available as a matter of right—petitioners must request leave to file from the PTAB.

The PTAB has discretion to either grant or deny the request, depending on whether the request satisfies “a showing of good cause” under 37 C.F.R. § 42.108(c). If the PTAB grants the request, then typically, the petitioner and patent owner both receive authorization to file another brief paper, usually around five pages, before the PTAB issues an institution decision.

To date, it has not been clear what qualifies as “good cause” when a petitioner decides to reply to the POPR. Is the filing of a reply a strong predictor of the institution decision? We analyzed the role of petitioners’ replies to POPRs in recent PTAB proceedings, and our research provides a fresh view on the replies’ impact on corresponding institution decisions. In addition, our findings include updated practice tips for IPR practitioners.


Continue Reading What Qualifies as a Good “Good Cause” When Responding to a Patent Owner’s Preliminary Response?

We have previously written about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) precedential decision in Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc., which set forth six factors the PTAB will consider when assessing whether to discretionarily deny an IPR petition in light of co-pending district court litigation.  Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc., IPR2020-00019, Paper 11 (March 20, 2020).  The PTAB has been applying the Fintiv factors in subsequent IPRs, many of which involve a stayed district court litigation.  The PTAB has now designated as precedential a decision instituting IPR in Sotera Wireless, Inc. v. Masimo Corp., IPR2020-01019, Paper 12 (Dec. 1, 2020).  In this IPR, although the co-pending district court case was not stayed, Sotera Wireless (“Sotera”) filed a stipulation relinquishing all potentially duplicative arguments.  The PTAB allowed the IPR to proceed, noting that the stipulation avoided duplication and prevented conflicting results, chief components of the Fintiv factors.  More detail on this decision is below.
Continue Reading One More Tool to Avoid Fintiv IPR Denial: File A Stipulation in District Court Relinquishing Potentially Duplicative Arguments

Today, the PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final rule related to trial proceedings under the America Invents Act.  The final rule goes into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register (scheduled for December 9, 2020); it makes changes to institution practice and sur-replies, and eliminates an evidentiary presumption in favor of a petitioner on certain institution-related fact issues.
Continue Reading PTAB Publishes Final Rule on Institution and Presumption in AIA Trials

To guide and inform the public about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s practice surrounding post-grant proceedings, the Board periodically designates certain of its decisions as precedential or informative.  As noted by the PTAB:

precedential decision establishes binding authority concerning major policy or procedural issues, or other issues of exceptional importance, including constitutional questions, important issues regarding statutes, rules, and regulations, important issues regarding case law, or issues of broad applicability to the Board. Standard Operating Procedure 2, 2-3, 11.

An informative decision provides Board norms on recurring issues, guidance on issues of first impression to the Board, guidance on Board rules and practices, and guidance on issues that may develop through analysis of recurring issues in many cases. Standard Operating Procedure 2, 9.

Relatedly, the Patent Office uses a Precedential Opinion Panel “to decide issues of exceptional importance to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (e.g., issues involving agency policy or procedure).”  That Panel is composed of the Director of the Patent Office, the Commissioner for Patents, and the Chief Judge of the PTAB.

Recently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that it established two online portals, to facilitate submitting 1) requests to designate precedential and informative decisions, and 2) amicus positions regarding requests for Panel review.
Continue Reading PTAB Adds Online Public-Submission Forms

Since the start of post-grant proceedings, the Patent Office has published a Patent Trial Practice Guide to provide a framework for conducting those proceedings, including setting out the structure and times for taking action in each of the new proceedings (e.g., Inter Partes Review and Post Grant Review). The first Trial Practice Guide issued in August 2012, and updates were issued in August 2018, July 2019, and November 2019 (Consolidated Trial Practice Guide).  To guide post-grant practice, the Patent Office has also designated more than 40 decisions as precedential or informative. A topic of continued interest is the Patent Office’s practice surrounding its decision whether to institute a post-grant proceeding after a petition is filed.

Recently, the Patent and Trademark Office issued a Federal Register notice regarding a Request for Comments on Discretion To Institute Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The full text of the notice can also be found in PDF format here and here.
Continue Reading PTAB Seeks Comments On Its Approach To Institution Decisions

On October 13, 2020, the Supreme Court granted petitions for certiorari filed by the United States (in No. 19-1434), Smith & Nephew, Inc. (in No. 19-1452), and Arthrex, Inc. (in No. 19-1458) regarding the appointments of the administrative patent judges of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.  No date has been set to argue the cases, but the Court consolidated them and allotted one hour for argument time.  Because the Court consolidated the cases for briefing and oral argument, it noted that “future filings and activity in the cases will now be reflected on the docket of No. 19-1434.”  On December 31, 2020, the Court set oral argument for March 1, 2021.

The various petitions were granted only to the extent of “Questions 1 and 2 as set forth in the July 22, 2020 Memorandum for the United States.”  See Orders List at 2.

Question 1 asks “[w]hether, for purposes of the Appointments Clause, U.S. Const. Art. II, § 2, Cl. 2, administrative patent judges of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are principal officers who must be appointed by the President with the Senate’s advice and consent, or ‘inferior Officers’ whose appointment Congress has permissibly vested in a department head.”

Question 2 asks “[w]hether, if administrative patent judges are principal officers, the court of appeals properly cured any Appointments Clause defect in the current statutory scheme prospectively by severing the application of 5 U.S.C. § 7513(a) to those judges.”

Links to the briefs, and details of the briefing schedule, are below. [Updated 1/8/2021, to reflect most current filings, and argument date]
Continue Reading Supreme Court grants certiorari in PTAB Appointments Clause cases

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) recently designated two decisions as informative regarding discretionary denials of institution: Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc., Case IPR2020-00019, Paper 15 (May 13, 2020), and Sand Revolution II, LLC v. Continental Intermodal Group – Trucking LLC, Case IPR2019-01393, Paper 24 (June 16, 2020).  These decisions show how the Board applied the Fintiv factors established in its recent Precedential Order to determine whether co-pending district court litigation should result in a discretionary denial of institution under AIA 35 U.S.C. § 314(a).
Continue Reading New PTAB Informative Decisions: Applying the Fintiv Factors in View of Parallel District Court Litigation

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, the PTAB designated one decision as precedential and three decisions as informative, on issues including: 1) the statutory scope of confidential settlement agreements, 2) design patent ornamentality, 3) terminating a proceeding having a pending motion to amend, and 4) use of confidential information at a hearing.
Continue Reading PTAB Issues Precedential Decision to Clarify 35 U.S.C. § 317(b) Collateral Agreements, and Three Informative Decisions