In recent years, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has frequently declined to institute IPRs for procedural reasons unrelated to a petition’s substantive strength. In particular, the Board has increasingly denied petitions in view of related, parallel litigation that it perceives as so far advanced that it would be most efficient to deny institution and leave patentability issues to be resolved in the other forum. Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc., IPR2020-00019, Paper 11 (PTAB Mar. 20, 2020) (Precedential). Key among the factors guiding those Fintiv denials is whether and to what extent the other proceeding’s trial date is scheduled to precede the Board’s deadline for issuing a final written decision, i.e., Fintiv factor two. Id. at 9.
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.
As part of the post-grant proceedings created in 2012 by the America Invents Act, a Patent Owner can choose to file a motion to amend its patent when that patent is challenged. See 35 U.S.C. § 316(d) (“Amendment of the patent.”); 37 CFR § 42.121 (“Amendment of the patent.”). For example, a Patent Owner may…