In a previous post, we reported that the PTAB’s Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) tackled issue joinder in Proppant Express Investments v. Oren TechsIPR2018-00914, Paper 24 at 2.

As background, in Proppant, the POP addressed the following issues:

  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 § 315(b), or any other relevant facts, have any impact on the first two questions?

The POP determined that § 315(c) “provides discretion to allow a petitioner to be joined to a proceeding in which it is already a party and provides discretion to allow joinder of new issues into an existing proceeding.”  IPR2018-00914, Paper 38, at 4.

In Facebook, Inc., v. Windy City Innovations, LLC, the Federal Circuit reversed the POP opinion.  953 F.3d 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2020) (the “Decision”).  Specifically, the court held that “[t]he clear and unambiguous text of § 315(c) does not authorize same-party joinder, and does not authorize the joinder of new issues.”  Decision at 1322. 
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Reverses PTAB’s Precedential Opinion Panel on Aspects of Joinder

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”) recently provided guidance to practitioners on its discretion to deny institution under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) and § 314(a) by designating three decisions as informative or precedential.[1]  Under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d), the Board may deny institution of inter partes review (“IPR”) because “the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office.” Advanced Bionics, LLC v. MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geräte GmbH, IPR2019-01469, Paper 6 (PTAB Feb. 13, 2020) (precedential), Oticon Med. AB v. Cochlear Ltd., IPR2019-00975, Paper 15 (PTAB Oct. 16, 2019) (precedential), and PUMA N. Am., Inc. v. NIKE, Inc., IPR2019-01042, Paper 10 (PTAB Oct. 31, 2019) (informative) all provide guidance related to § 325(d).  Under 35 U.S.C. § 314(a), the Board may deny institution as an exercise of its discretion in certain circumstances, such as when parallel proceedings are underway.  In Oticon, the Board also addressed the parallel proceedings issue under § 314(a).

In Advanced Bionics, the Board denied institution under § 325(d), set forth a two-part framework for applying § 325(d), and explained how the factors from Becton, Dickinson & Co. v. B. Braun Melsungen AG, IPR2017-01586, Paper 8 (Dec. 15, 2017) (precedential as to § III.C.5, first paragraph) (“Becton, Dickinson”) fit into the two-part framework.

In Oticon, however, the Board refused to exercise its discretion under § 325(d) and instituted the proceeding over similar arguments by a patent owner. While it did not characterize the § 325(d) inquiry as a two-part analysis, and it grouped the Becton, Dickinson factors into three categories, the Board focused on the same two issues: (1) whether the same or substantially similar prior art and arguments were previously considered, and (2) whether the Patent Office erred in its prior assessment of the art. The Board also rejected a request to deny institution under § 314(a) and distinguished an earlier precedential ruling, NHK Spring Co. v. Intri-Plex Techs., Inc., IPR2018-00752, slip op. at 19–20 (PTAB Sept. 12, 2018) (Paper 8) (precedential) (“NHK”), in which institution was denied because of a parallel district court proceeding.

In PUMA, the Board denied institution under § 325(d) after analyzing the Becton, Dickinson factors and finding the same prior art was previously considered and the petitioner did not persuasively demonstrate the examiner materially erred in evaluating the prior art during prosecution.

This is a longer read, but worthwhile, given the importance of the issues.  As detailed in the following summaries, the rulings collectively show the fact-specific nature of the § 325(d) and § 314(a) inquiries. The Board will assess the prior-art teachings considered in prosecution and earlier Board proceedings, will compare those to the teachings asserted in the petition, will carefully compare the disclosures of supposedly duplicative prior art, and will assess the issues and progress of parallel district court cases. Litigants should be prepared for this level of scrutiny and establish the needed records on the prior art teachings and parallel district court cases.
Continue Reading Recent Precedential and Informative Decisions Clarify Standard for Discretionary Denials of Institution

In a decision denying institution of inter partes review rendered on February 5, 2020 , the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) stated “there is no general rule that efficacy language in a claim is non-limiting.” Gilead Sciences, Inc. v. United States, IPR2019-01455, Paper 16 at 26.  The decision held, inter alia, that whether efficacy language in a claim should be given patentable weight is a fact-based inquiry that includes examining the application as whole and the patent record.  Id. at 26, 30.  When the claims at issue have been granted in a patent that issued from a continuation application, the patent record includes that of the parent patent (e.g., and, if applicable, any grandparent) or parent patent application.

Continue Reading PTAB States “There is No General Rule that Efficacy Language in a Claim is Non-Limiting”

Building on one of the running topics on our blog—what a Petitioner must do to demonstrate public accessibility of a printed publication (see, for example, posts from Dec. 27, 2019; Dec. 2, 2019; Nov. 13, 2018; and Sept. 25, 2018)—the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) has once again addressed the issue and held that bare attorney argument cannot overcome objective evidence of a reference’s accessibility.  A summary of the institution decision in this case was published on our blog on March 5, 2019.
Continue Reading The Continued Prior Art Accessibility Saga: Beware of “Bare Attorney Argument”

As we noted previously on the blog (see here, here, here, and here), issues proving up prior art during inter partes review proceedings arise regularly at the PTAB.

Our colleagues, Miguel Bombach and Brandon White, reviewed the current state of PTAB rulings, and synthesized their findings in a short research paper, now available, entitled Inter Partes Review Practice: Challenges in Proving Up Publications as Prior Art. [PDF]
Continue Reading Challenges in Proving Up Publications as Prior Art During IPR

Today, the PTAB’s Precedential Opinion Panel issued a precedential decision holding that even a deficient pleading triggers the one-year IPR filing period.  GoPro, Inc. v. 360Heros, Inc., IPR2018-01754 (PTAB Aug. 23, 2019) (Paper 38)
Continue Reading PTAB Issues Precedential GoPro Decision That Even Service Of “Deficient” Complaint Starts IPR Time Clock

Previously, Emily Greb posted on the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Inst. Inc. v. Iancu, Dir. U.S. Pat. & Trademark Off., 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018), which held that when the Board institutes an inter partes review, it must decide the patentability of all claims challenged in the IPR.

Now, Emily and Tyler Bowen, with assistance from Gene W. Lee, Bryan D. Beel, and Maria A. Stubbings, have published a short research paper entitled The Supreme Court’s SAS Decision: Has All-Or-Nothing Institution Created A Wave Of Change? [PDF]
Continue Reading The Effect Of SAS Institute v. Iancu On IPR Practice

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