Posts Tagged: "America Invents Act"

Massie, Centripetal Take Center Stage in House IP Subcommittee Hearing on PTAB Reform

One day after the Senate Judiciary Committee’s IP Subcommittee met to discuss the PTAB Reform Act and other ways to improve the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a similar hearing featuring six witnesses with varying views on the PTAB about how to improve the system. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), who last year introduced a bill that would repeal the PTAB entirely, grilled the witnesses about the effects of the PTAB on U.S. investment in innovation and national security, and expressed skepticism that the system has succeeded in its intended goal of providing a cheaper, faster forum, particularly for small businesses and independent inventors.

Senate IP Subcommittee Starts Dialogue on Reforming the PTAB

Today, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property met to hear testimony from four witnesses about proposed changes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as outlined in the recently announced PTAB Reform Act. Subcommittee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bill last week. Those testifying generally agreed the bill represents compromise and, at Tillis’ prompting, on a scale of green to red, scored it a green to yellow overall.

Vidal Memo Clarifying PTAB Discretionary Denial Analysis Says Fintiv Does Not Apply to Parallel ITC Investigations

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal has issued a memorandum on the “Interim Procedure for Discretionary Denials in AIA Post-Grant Proceedings with Parallel District Court Litigation” clarifying current Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) practice on discretionary denials of inter partes review (IPR) and post grant review (PGR) proceeding institutions. The memo and corresponding press release explain that the PTAB “will not deny institution of an IPR or PGR under Fintiv (i) when a petition presents compelling evidence of unpatentability; (ii) when a request for denial under Fintiv is based on a parallel ITC proceeding; or (iii) where a petitioner stipulates not to pursue in a parallel district court proceeding the same grounds as in the petition or any grounds that could have reasonably been raised in the petition.”

‘In Good Hands’: As Hirshfeld Reflects on His Long Career, Vidal Preps for USPTO’s Future

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal and outgoing Acting Deputy Director Drew Hirshfeld joined IPWatchdog’s CEO and Founder Gene Quinn today to discuss Hirshfeld’s nearly 30-year career with the Office, as well as Vidal’s philosophy as she embarks on her journey as the new Director. Vidal emphasized the importance of dialogue in shaping USPTO practices and processes but said she also will not wait around indefinitely on input over doing “what’s right for the country.” She said: “We will get feedback [but] that’s not going to stop us from acting.” Hirshfeld, who spoke with Quinn on his last day in office, joined the USPTO in 1994.

‘Sacrifices’: PTAB Reform Act Would Limit Fintiv Denials

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) today introduced the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Reform Act of 2022, which is meant to tackle gamesmanship at the PTAB. In April, Senators Leahy and Tillis penned an op-ed that announced such a bill would be introduced “in the coming days”, but it never materialized. The bill makes a number of key changes to PTAB procedures, including explaining that “the right to appeal shall extend at least to any dissatisfied party that reasonably expects that another person will assert estoppel against the party under section 325(e) as a result of the decision.”

As USPTO Begins Accepting Applications for PTAB Pro Bono Program, Inventor Community Calls for Stronger Action to Curb PTAB Abuses

On June 7, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Director’s Blog published a post authored by USPTO Director Kathi Vidal announcing that the agency is now receiving applications from inventors seeking free legal assistance to bring ex parte appeals of patent examiner rejections to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). While Vidal’s announcement is certainly welcome news to many inventors who are in financial need, it fails to address larger issues faced by inventors at the PTAB that have been voiced by members of Congress and the inventor community alike in recent months.

Vidal to Review Institution of Cases Against VLSI Under Interim Director Review Process

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal has intervened in two Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cases that have caused much controversy in the patent world. Vidal yesterday granted Director Review in both OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01064 and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01229, both of which have been the subject of scrutiny by members of Congress and patent practitioners, since the petitioners involved were incorporated after Intel was found to have infringed VLSI’s patents in district court and have no discernable business operations beyond challenging VLSI’s patent claims. The two entities’ petitions were also nearly identical to inter partes review (IPR) petitions previously filed by Intel that had been rejected by the USPTO.

Vidal Tells Tillis and Hirono She’s Working to Curb IPR Abuse

Following a late April request by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI)  to then newly-confirmed United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal asking her to respond to a number of questions surrounding abuse of the inter partes review (IPR) system, Vidal last week sent a letter explaining she is working on the problem. The senators’ April letter had expressed concern over Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions to institute inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC. “The facts and circumstances around these proceedings suggest petitioners OpenSky Industries, LLC (OpenSky) and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC (PQA) brought the proceedings to manipulate the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for their own financial gain,” explained the letter.

Interim USPTO Process Moves the Needle on Transparency – But Predictability May Suffer Without Further Guidance

In a blog post on May 24, just over a month after being sworn in, Director Kathi Vidal stated that one of her priorities is to “accelerate change and communications by adopting interim processes and procedures while [the USPTO] work[s] to finalize.”  A mere two days later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued one such interim process for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision circulation and internal PTAB review. In addition to speed, this interim process is consistent with Director Vidal’s emphasis on transparency by ensuring that the parties to a proceeding and the public know the identity of the decision-makers. Nevertheless, as discussed further in this article, Director Vidal and PTAB Executive Management must be proactive in identifying areas for further publicly-issued guidance. Otherwise, consistency in PTAB decision-making is likely to suffer.

Hirono and Tillis Give Vidal One Month to Answer Questions on Abuse of PTAB Process

Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a letter yesterday to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal to express their concern over the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions to institute inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC. “The facts and circumstances around these proceedings suggest petitioners OpenSky Industries, LLC (OpenSky) and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC (PQA) brought the proceedings to manipulate the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for their own financial gain,” explains the letter.

Actions of USPTO Officials Performing the Director’s Functions and Duties During Director Vacancy are Void

Under the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause, “Officers of the United States” generally are required to be nominated by the President “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.”  This rule applies equally to the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), who has an important executive role with political accountability and therefore, by statute, must be Presidentially-Appointed and Senate-Confirmed (PAS). The Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (VRA) provides that the President (and only the President) may direct an “acting” official to temporarily perform the functions and duties of the vacant PAS office. The VRA states that its mechanisms are “exclusive” of all other mechanisms for temporarily filling a vacant PAS office. On several occasions since 2013, including most recently with Commissioner Andrew Hirshfeld, the USPTO has adopted a modality for filling a vacancy in the office of the Director, not with an Acting Director as the VRA requires, but with a non-PAS official “designated” to “perform the functions and duties” of the Director.

Jump Rope Systems Asks CAFC for Initial En Banc Rehearing Challenging Collateral Estoppel Ruling in XY v. Trans Ova Genetics

On April 19, exercise equipment developer Jump Rope Systems filed a petition  with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) seeking an initial hearing en banc to challenge a consent judgment  entered in a patent infringement case filed in the Southern District of Ohio. Jump Rope Systems is asking the full Federal Circuit to overturn its own decision in XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. (2018), arguing that preclusive effect cannot be given to invalidity determinations issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) because XY conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court rulings on collateral estoppel doctrine.

New York Times Editorial Board Lobs Unfounded Criticism at Patent System, Iancu

The New York Times Editorial Board over the weekend penned an op-ed charging that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has “devolved into a backwater office that large corporations game, politicians ignore and average citizens are wholly excluded from.” The piece calls for an overhaul of the U.S. patent system and for new USPTO Director Kathi Vidal and Congress to “seize the opportunity…to modernize and fortify the patent system.” It includes input from Priti Krishtel of the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK)—which recently has been the subject of scrutiny by pro-patent lawmakers like Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)—and Charles Duan, who has testified to Congress that patents deter genetic research and “bully and suppress true innovators.”

Leahy/ Tillis Announce Bill to Balance PTAB Process

Last night, the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property published an op-ed in The Hill on the important role the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays in the U.S. patent ecosystem, and expressed their commitment to strong patent rights as a necessity for American innovation to flourish. “In order to ensure America’s continued dominance in all areas of innovation, we must have strong patent rights,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote. “However, for our patent rights to truly be strong, they have to be based on high-quality patents… The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays a critical role in this process and is a necessary backstop to invalidate truly low-quality patents that do not represent true innovation and never should have been issued.”

Money, Media, Votes, and Passing H.R. 5874

All things in Washington are driven by money, media and votes. If you can deliver one or more of those things, you will get the results you want. Engaging in politics with this in mind is key to fixing the broken patent system by passing HR 5874, the Restoring American Leadership in Innovation Act (RALIA). Since no mortal can compete with Big Tech’s big bucks and their control of social media, and the media in general, the only lever remaining is delivering votes back home, or more importantly, delivering those votes to candidates who commit to supporting HR 5874.

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