Posts in USPTO

Vidal’s Solution to OpenSky Abuse Encourages PTAB Extortion

There is a reason many stakeholders believe the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has been weaponized against patent owners. From the very outset, the first Chief Judge of the PTAB famously, or infamously, stated that if the tribunal was not doing some “death squadding” they were not doing their jobs; a rebuke to then Federal Circuit Chief Judge Randall Rader’s observation that the PTAB was nothing more than a death squad for patents. But from those early days where patent owners were not even allowed to submit evidence to rebut a petition at the institution stage, to the unbelievable lapse in ethical judgment of one former PTAB judge, there have been numerous reasons to question the tribunal.

The Conundrum Concerning Perceived Partiality and Financial Incentives in the AIA Review Process

There is a surge of protests in the air and increased cries of “structural bias” concerning the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) granting of patent reviews, fueled by the July report issued by the U.S. Government and Accountability Office (GAO) revealing that 75% of surveyed PTAB judges said that control by office directors and Board management affected their autonomy.

Using Analytics to Assess the Effectiveness of Common Patent Prosecution Practices

Lawyers should always be trying to look at things from new and different angles to gain an edge. We owe it to our clients, and honestly, we should do it for ourselves, because it makes practicing more fulfilling. In an effort to spice up my patent law life, I have become especially interested in patent analytics over the past few years—that’s right, I just used “patent analytics” and “spice up” in the same sentence.

Vidal Bans OpenSky from Active Role in VLSI IPR in Precedential Director Review Decision

In a much-anticipated decision, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal today issued a precedential Director review ruling holding that inter partes review (IPR) petitioner OpenSky Industries, LLC abused the IPR process in its conduct with patent owner, Technology LLC, and sanctioning OpenSky by excluding it from the IPR proceedings and “temporarily elevating Intel to the lead petitioner.” Vidal’s 52-page decision further remands the case to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to decide whether it merits institution “based only on the record before the Board prior to institution.” The decision explains that “OpenSky, through its counsel, abused the IPR process by filing this IPR in an attempt to extract payment from VLSI and joined Petitioner Intel, and expressed a willingness to abuse the process in order to extract the payment.”

USPTO Publishes RFC on Continuation and Other Criticized Patent Practices

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today that it is seeking comment from the public on “proposed initiatives directed at bolstering the robustness and reliability of patents to incentivize and protect new and nonobvious inventions while facilitating the broader dissemination of public knowledge to promote innovation and competition.” During IPWatchdog’s LIVE event in Dallas, Texas, in September, USPTO Texas Regional Office Director Hope Shimabuku explained that issuing “robust and reliable patents”—which seems to have replaced the oft-maligned term, “patent quality,”—is a key focus for USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. The request for comment (RFC) tackles this problem from a number of angles, from fee-setting to terminal disclaimer and continuation practices, to improving prior art searches. The RFC stems in part from a July letter sent by the USPTO to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlining the USPTO’s planned initiatives to help combat perceived links between patents and drug pricing problems.

The Language of Patents (Part II): Organizing the Descriptive Capability of the Detailed Description to Distinguish Patent Worthy Subject Matter from the Prior Art

In Part I of this series, we discussed  the importance of identifying and avoiding patentability-blocking ambiguities in a patent application. It is equally important that the patent application drafter bring a sensibility to the drafting of the application that recognizes that conceptually the application must not  simply be seen as a document whose job is to describe an invention but must also be understood to be a document that must have a descriptive capability that enables it to distinguish patent worthy subject matter from prior art. Thus, when the patentability of patent worthy subject matter disclosed by the application is challenged, the application can speak—it is able to defend its patentability. This capability is essential in both pre and post grant forums.

Claiming the Solid Form: Balancing Language and Data for Success

Patent claims define the boundaries of an invention and are meant to state with clarity what the patent protects. Having clearly constructed claims also proves valuable during infringement assertions. These well-known guidelines should be at the forefront of the patent practitioner’s mind when drafting solid-form claims. Patent attorneys practicing in the chemical arts use two primary methods of claiming chemical compounds. The first method relies on chemical nomenclature to describe a claimed chemical compound. Take for example, the drug Wakix® (U.S. Patent No. 7,169,928), in which the active ingredient, pitolisant, is claimed to reference its chemical name without drawing a corresponding structure. The second method claims the drawn chemical structure of a compound. Of course, there are intermediate ways to claim chemical compounds where both names and structure are used to define the scope — especially with genus and sub-genus claims.

Patent Filings Roundup: Beer Bong Companies Clash; Crypto Company Sues Coinbase; Campaigns Spiral in Otherwise Quiet Week

District court and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings were both down substantially this week, with 57 and 15, respectively, and 91 district court terminations. The drop-off of patent filings in the Western District of Texas has perhaps not been as pronounced as might be expected, though obviously most of those cases are being assigned to other judges there, or continuations of defendants being added to suits already within the Waco court’s jurisdiction. The Traxcell campaign continued to spiral, with many new defendants added; ditto the Hilco capital-led Bell Semiconductor case, which added an even more diverse list of defendants to the already-long roster. Otherwise most suits this week, with the exception of a few highlighted below, are related to earlier-filed suits.

CAFC Affirms Merck’s Win at PTAB over Mylan Challenge to Diabetes Treatment Claims

In its third precedential patent opinion this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) earlier today upheld a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision finding that Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. failed to show that certain claims of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.’s patent for a Type 2 Diabetes treatment were anticipated or would have been obvious over the cited prior art. Judge Lourie authored the opinion.

Coons Announces He Will Co-Sponsor Tillis’ Patent Eligibility Restoration Act

On Wednesday night, during a launch event for the Council for Innovation Promotion (C4IP), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) announced that he has come on as a co-sponsor of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the first draft of his bill in August, but had no co-sponsors at the time, which caused some to question the chances of the bill passing anytime soon. But tonight, Coons said he is happy to be a co-sponsor and both Coons and Tillis seemed optimistic about the prospects for intellectual property legislation in the next congress—no matter which of them ends up as Chair.

‘What’s in a Name?’ When it Comes to Approval for a Drug Name, a Lot

The process of bringing a new pharmaceutical drug to market is time-consuming and expensive. The process of naming the new drug, while not as scientifically complex, is often no less work. Drugs have several names, including their chemical (or scientific), generic (or non-proprietary) and brand (or proprietary) names. The chemical name specifies the molecular structure of the drug. The generic name specifies the underlying compound of the drug and includes a “stem” that informs health care professionals about how the drug will work in the body. In the United States, generic names must be approved by the United States Adopted Names (USAN) Council and the World Health Organization (WHO) INN Programme. While the chemical and generic names may be available for use by others in the industry, the brand name—under which the new drug is typically marketed—is unique and exclusive to the brand owner and is the focus of this article.

CAFC Says PTAB Got it Wrong in Mixed Ruling on Food Slicer Patent

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) yesterday issued a precedential decision, in part holding that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to “fully and particularly set out the bases upon which it reached its decision” to render obvious certain claims of Provisur Technologies’ patent. The CAFC also said the Board erred in its analysis finding two of the claims not unpatentable. The opinion was authored by Judge Prost. The case relates to claims 1-14 of Provisur’s U.S. Patent No. 6,997,089 for “a method and system for ‘classifying slices or a portion cut from a food product according to an optical image of the slice,’” according to the CAFC opinion. The PTAB held that Weber, Inc. had proved unpatentable as obvious claims 1–10, 13, and 14 but not claims 11 or 12. Provisur appealed the unpatentability determinations and Weber cross-appealed the finding that claims 11 and 12 were not unpatentable.

The Language of Patents (Part I): Equipping Patent Applications for Pre-and Post-Grant Success

Patents that are expected to protect a company’s most valuable innovations must stake a claim to that innovation and be equipped to defend it. This is because being worthy of patent protection doesn’t guarantee that an application’s claims to an innovation will not be rejected and rights to that innovation jeopardized. A major reason for this is that an examiner’s interpretation of a claim drawn to an innovation that may be worthy of patent protection may cause them to determine that the subject matter as claimed is not patentably distinct from the prior art. Such an interpretation can block the patentability of the claim in the absence of evidence that the examiner’s interpretation of the claim is not reasonable. Structural weaknesses of the detailed description that may or may not be addressed by patent drafting orthodoxy can result in a lack of a capacity to successfully manage challenges presented by an examiner’s interpretations of subject matter set forth in claims. An unorganized capacity to respond to such rejection challenges often leaves the practitioner with very little alternative but to amend claims in a manner that narrows protection to less than what the applicant’s invention should have received.

Jump Rope Company Asks High Court to Weigh in on CAFC Approach to Collateral Estoppel for PTAB Invalidations

The inventor of a novel jump rope system (the Revolution Rope), Molly Metz, is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court through her company, Jump Rope Systems, LLC, to seek clarification of the collateral estoppel doctrine as applied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) to bar a patent infringement suit in district court where the CAFC has affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding of unpatentability. Jump Rope Systems is arguing that the CAFC’s decision in  XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. (2018) conflicts with the Supreme Court decisions in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., 575 U.S. 138 (2015); Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC, 571 U.S. 191 (2014); and Grogan v. Garner, 498 U.S. 279 (1991).

This Week in Washington IP: Securing U.S. Leadership in Emerging Compute Technologies, Managing the Risks of AI, and Incorporating Commercial Drones Into U.S. Airspace

This week in Washington IP news, the Senate Aviation Safety Subcommittee takes a look at incorporating unmanned aerial systems more fully into the U.S. national airspace, while the full Senate Commerce Committee explores how to maintain U.S. leadership in emerging compute technologies. Over in the House of Representatives, the House Science Committee focuses on the risks that must be managed as artificial intelligence (AI) systems become more highly developed. Elsewhere, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosts the latest public meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee, and the American Enterprise Institute hosts a half-day event on Tuesday featuring multiple expert panels discussing topics at the intersection of technology and government.