During the week of December 10, 2018, the Board issued several Final Written Decisions and institution decisions in Technology Center 1600.  The decisions are summarized below: Continue Reading PTAB Tech Center 1600 Round-Up: Week of December 10-14, 2018

In a previous post, we reported that in Proppant Express Investments v. Oren Techs., a panel of the PTAB held that 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) allows only joinder of other parties to an IPR, and not same-party joinder of new patentability issues.  See IPR2018-00914, Paper 21 at 4-6.

In a recent order, the PTAB’s new Precedential Opinion Panel decided to review the Proppant holding on issue joinder, which appeared to differ from earlier rulings in similar cases.  The Panel expressly noted that “Board decisions conflict on the proper interpretation of 35 U.S.C. § 315(c)”:

Compare, e.g., Target Corp. v. Destination Maternity Corp., Case IPR2014-00508 (Paper 28) (Feb. 12, 2015) (concluding that 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) permits a petitioner to be joined to a proceeding in which it is already a party), with SkyHawke Techs., LLC v. L&H Concepts, LLC, Case IPR2014-01485 (Paper 13) (Mar. 20, 2015) (reaching opposite conclusion).
IPR2018-00914, Paper 24 at 2.  The Panel will include Andrei Iancu, Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner of Patents, and Scott Boalick, Acting Chief Judge of the PTAB.
The Panel will address three questions related to issue joinder:
  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 35 U.S.C. § 315(b), or any other relevant facts, have any impact on the first two questions?

IPR2018-00914, Paper 24 at 2.  The parties and any amicus curiae may submit briefs, of no more than 15 pages, no later than December 28, 2018.  Id. at 3.  The parties may then file response briefs, of no more than 10 pages, no later than January 14, 2019.  Id.

During the week of November 26, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”) issued seven decisions in TC 1600, one denying institution of inter partes review (“IPR”), one termination decision, and five final written decisions.  Summaries of the decisions follow: Continue Reading PTAB Tech Center 1600 Round-Up: Week of November 26 – 30, 2018

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

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.

Continue Reading Obviousness of Overlapping Ranges – The Burden-Shifting Framework Applies to Inter Partes Review: E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Synvina C.V.

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.]

Continue Reading USPTO Issues Claim Construction Final Rule for Patent Office Trials – In with Phillips, Out with BRI