On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court held that a federal agency is not a “person” who can file a petition for review of a patent under one of the three new proceedings created by the America Invents Act (“AIA”).  Return Mail, Inc. v. United States Postal Service, 587 U.S. ____, 2019 WL 2412904, at *3 (U.S. June 10, 2019) (“Return Mail“).  Specifically, the Court held that federal agencies cannot file a petition for inter partes, post-grant, or covered business method review with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) (collectively, “PTAB proceedings”).  Id.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Prevents the Government from Challenging Patents in PTAB Proceedings

The “on-sale bar” deems that certain sales of an invention that occur more than one year before a patent application is filed are a bar to patentability.  See 35 U.S.C. § 102(b) (pre-America Invents Act (“AIA”)); 35 U.S.C. § 102(a)(1) (AIA).  On Monday, June 25, 2018, the Supreme Court granted Helsinn’s petition for certiorari in Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., to interpret the on-sale bar provision of 35 U.S.C. § 102 in the AIA.  Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc., — S. Ct. —, 2018 WL 1142984 (2018) [SCOTUSblog case file].  The question presented to the Supreme Court is: “Whether, under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, an inventor’s sale of an invention to a third party that is obligated to keep the invention confidential qualifies as prior art for purposes of determining the patentability of the invention.”  Petition for Certiorari, Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc., No. 17-1229, 2018 WL 1168243 (Feb. 28, 2018).

Continue Reading Did the AIA Change the On-Sale Bar Standard? The Supreme Court Will Decide.

On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court held that the inter partes review (IPR) process, used by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to reconsider the patentability of claims in an already-issued patent, does not violate Article III or the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution.  Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp., No. 16-712, slip op. (U.S. Apr. 24, 2018) (Supreme Court link).

Following an IPR, the PTAB ruled claims of an Oil States patent were unpatentable.  In its appeal of the PTAB ruling, Oil States argued that IPR proceedings are unconstitutional because actions to revoke a patent must be tried in an Article III court before a jury.  After the Federal Circuit summarily affirmed the PTAB’s decision, Oil States appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit.


Continue Reading Supreme Court Affirms Constitutionality of Inter Partes Review in Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp.

On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court held that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) must address all challenged claims of an instituted Petition in a final written decision. SAS Inst. Inc. v. Iancu, Dir. U.S. Pat. & Trademark Off., No. 16-969, slip op. (U.S. Apr. 24, 2018).  By way of background, in its Petition for inter partes review (“IPR”), SAS sought review of all the claims of ComplementSoft’s software patent.  During the IPR proceedings, the PTAB instituted review on some of the claims, relying on a Patent Office regulation that allowed for “partial institution.”  The PTAB held seven of those claims unpatentable and confirmed the patentability of one claim.  SAS argued to the Federal Circuit on appeal that the patent statute required the PTAB to address all challenged claims in its final written decision.  The Federal Circuit rejected that argument and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.  The Supreme Court disagreed with the Federal Circuit and held that all challenged claims must be addressed in an instituted IPR’s final written decision.  Id.

Continue Reading Supreme Court holds that when PTAB institutes an inter partes review, it must decide patentability of all challenged claims