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.

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In the chemical and biological arts, it is common for patent challengers to allege obviousness based upon prior art disclosures of ranges combined with “routine optimization” by one skilled in the art.  In E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Synvina C.V., No. 17-1977 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 17, 2018), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s (“Board”) final written decision upholding Synvina’s U.S. Patent No. 8,865,921 (“’921 patent”) as non-obvious, in response to du Pont’s inter partes review (“IPR”) challenge on such grounds.  In particular, in E.I. du Pont, the Court found that the patentee failed to demonstrate that 1) the claimed range produced a new and unexpected result, different in kind and not merely in degree from the prior art, 2) the optimized parameter was not recognized as a result-effective variable, 3) the disclosure of broad ranges did not invite more than routine optimization, or 4) that the prior art taught away from the range.

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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.]

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