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.]

As noted in the unpublished text, “[t]his final rule revises the rules for IPR, PGR, and CBM proceedings that implemented provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (‘AIA’) providing for trials before the Office, by replacing the [broadest reasonable interpretation] standard for interpreting unexpired patent claims and substitute claims proposed in a motion to amend with the same claim construction standard that would be used to construe the claim in a civil action under 35 U.S.C. 282(b).  The rule adopts the same claim construction standard used by Article III federal courts and the ITC, both of which follow Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc), and its progeny.  Under the final rule, the PTAB will apply in an AIA proceeding the same standard applied in federal courts to construe patent claims.  This final rule also amends the rules to add a new provision which states that any prior claim construction determination in a civil action or proceeding before the ITC regarding a term of the claim in an IPR, PGR, or CBM proceeding will be considered if that determination is timely filed in the record of the IPR, [PGR] or CBM proceeding.”  Ppg. 2-3.

It appears that the new rule will be part of 37 C.F.R. 42.100(b) (IPRs), 42.200(b) (PGRs), and 42.300(b) (CBMs).  See ppg. 82-84.

As of November 13, 2018, 37 CFR 42.100(b), for example, will read:

“(b) In an inter partes review proceeding, a claim of a patent, or a claim proposed in a motion to amend under § 42.121, shall be construed using the same claim construction standard that would be used to construe the claim in a civil action under 35 U.S.C. 282(b), including construing the claim in accordance with the ordinary and customary meaning of such claim as understood by one of ordinary skill in the art and the prosecution history pertaining to the patent.  Any prior claim construction determination concerning a term of the claim in a civil action, or a proceeding before the International Trade Commission, that is timely made of record in the inter partes review proceeding will be considered.”

The current (and soon to be former) text reads:

“(b) A claim in an unexpired patent that will not expire before a final written decision is issued shall be given its broadest reasonable construction in light of the specification of the patent in which it appears. A party may request a district court-type claim construction approach to be applied if a party certifies that the involved patent will expire within 18 months from the entry of the Notice of Filing Date Accorded to Petition. The request, accompanied by a party’s certification, must be made in the form of a motion under § 42.20, within 30 days from the filing of the petition.”

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

On July 13, 2018, in Jazz Pharms., Inc. v. Amneal Pharms., LLC, (Case Nos. 2017-1617, -1673, -1674, -1675, -1676, -1677, -2075), the Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) holding that certain FDA advisory meeting minutes, transcripts, and slides were publicly available such that the materials constituted prior art.  We have previously discussed the PTAB’s public availability jurisprudence in Coalition for Affordable Drugs VIII, LLC v. The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, IPR2015-01835 where the PTAB held a presentation given to investors was not prior art.  Continue Reading FDA Advisory Committee Materials Determined to be Publicly Available Prior Art

Today the Federal Circuit (Judges Moore, Dyk, and Reyna) ruled in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. that tribal sovereign immunity does not apply in IPR proceedings. The appeal represented the first opportunity for the Federal Circuit to address the issue of sovereign immunity in IPR proceedings. Continue Reading Federal Circuit Affirms that Tribal Sovereign Immunity Does Not Apply in IPRs