When the America Invents Act (AIA) was before Congress a decade ago, it was heralded as the first comprehensive patent law since the 1952 Act. Ten years’ perspective on the new law, however, shows that its changes to patent policy have been more evolution rather than revolution. The AIA is simply the latest step in the long arc of moving U.S. law toward a more objective and logical patent system—and one that produces more accurate results.
Can a U.S. patent be invalidated due to an inaccurate translation of the non-English priority patent application? The answer is most definitely “Yes.” This article examines the recent Federal Circuit decision in which this occurred, IBSA Institut Biochimique, S.A. v. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc., 966 F.3d 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2020), and discusses the procedural framework on how to prevent and correct such a problem.
Building High-Quality Patent Portfolios in the United States and Europe: Part III – Examiner Interviews
In Part I of this series we discussed how patent portfolio managers should be careful when generating company-owned prior art or reviewing competitor prior art, and how a patent litigation or licensing campaign can be significantly hamstrung based on how the United States and Europe consider intervening prior art. In Part II, we examined software patents with U.S. and European Patent (EP) family members. Part III builds on Parts I and II and focuses on the value of examiner interviews in the U.S. and Europe.
Small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutics have shown tremendous promise in targeting diseases with poor prognoses, transforming the pharmaceutical landscape. They have allowed a paradigm shift from a conventional inhibitor-based approach to RNA-induced targeted gene silencing. Rational siRNA design and delivery methods have significantly improved their stability, limited immune activation, and increased target affinity resulting in an influx of siRNA-based clinical trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since approved three therapeutic siRNA drugs, ONPATTRO® (patisiran), GIVLAARI® (givosiran), and OXLUMO® (lumasiran) developed and marketed by Alnylam® Pharmaceuticals. In addition, several other drugs are in the late stages of clinical trials.
Our recent IPR Intelligence report covers the inter partes review (IPR) filing activity at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2021. Over the period of our study (July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2021) a total of 7,582 IPR petitions were filed, which shows a 1.6% decline compared to the five-year period we covered in our fourth annual report last year (July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2020). Nine-hundred and thirty law firms have represented patent owners and petitioners, while 5,341 attorneys worked for these firms. In the last five years, 2,658 companies have been involved in one or more IPRs, out of which 1,275 were on the petitioner’s side and 1,630 were patent owners.
When examining trademark applications, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) assesses whether the applied-for trademark presents a likelihood of confusion among consumers as compared to other registered U.S. trademarks. In making this determination, the USPTO considers a list of factors first laid out in In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. 476 F.2d 1357 (C.C.P.A. 1973), commonly referred to as the Du Pont factors. One of the Du Pont factors is the number and nature of similar marks in use by third parties on similar goods or services. Id. at 1361. This article examines the significance of third-party usage evidence to a likelihood of confusion analysis.
Patent Filings Roundup: IP Edge Hits Hardware Stores, Media Websites; Home Security Cam ITC Fight Goes Live
It was a heavy week for patent filings, with 78 new district court complaints and 41 new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions, all inter partes reviews (IPRs). IP Edge and Leigh Rothschild entities made up the bulk of those district court filings, while on the Board front, a number of long-running campaigns saw patents challenged, including the wide-ranging Express Mobile suits, some Divx [Fortress] challenges, and a number of challenges against the Xerox-owned Palo Alto Research Center.
Intangibles, and particularly intellectual property, are curious assets. By some estimates, intangibles comprise a large overall percentage of the S&P 500’s total value. Yet – as most IP-rich companies know – leveraging the value of intellectual property to secure a financing has traditionally been very hard to do. Yes, the litigation finance industry offers capital to intellectual property owners who need to finance the tremendous expense of intellectual property enforcement litigation. And yes, some litigation finance deals provide for operating expenses. But many IP-rich companies have financing needs that do not center around litigation or jive with the litigation finance industry’s cost of capital.
On September 2, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a decision granting a Motion for Summary Judgment for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and upholding the Office’s view that AI algorithms cannot be listed as inventors on U.S. patents. The court pointed to the Administrative Procedures Act’s (APA’s) strong deference to final agency decisions, barring any egregious errors. DABUS generated outputs corresponding to (1) a fractal design for food container surfaces that may help prevent stacked containers from sticking together and (2) a technique for controlling the timing of flashing warning lights to help attract attention. Dr. Stephen Thaler (DABUS’s creator and owner) filed patent applications on these inventions that were filed around the world, listing Thaler as the applicant and listing only DABUS as the inventor.
According to Strategic Goal 1 of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) FY2020 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR), the USPTO is committed to high-quality patent examination in a timely manner. From submission to approval, the USPTO has established groundbreaking quality assurance programs, metrics, and training programs. It has also established IT modernization programs to improve the overall quality of the office’s work products and processes. These steps have made it possible for the agency to introduce new programs to significantly reduce pendency. A high-quality patent must adhere to the requirements of Title 35, and to the corresponding and applicable case law. To monitor and drive quality, the Office has been conducting both internal and external stakeholder perception surveys semiannually since 2006. In response to stakeholder feedback, the USPTO is providing detailed data at the technology center level, including filings, pendency, staffing, productivity, and inventory levels.
In a previous article, we discussed the difference between a reasonable royalty for patent infringement and a FRAND licensing rate, both in terms of their origins and objectives: the former being a creature of statute and case law that seeks to compensate a patent owner for infringement, whereas the latter is rooted in contract and seeks, amongst other things, to address issues of royalty stacking and discriminatory licensing. Despite these differences, we noted that these two concepts have often been treated interchangeably by courts, often leading to confusing results…. Pursuant to appeal of that decision, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has now addressed the photonegative question in HTC Corp. et al. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM et al., case number 19-40643: are patent laws regarding what constitutes a reasonable royalty applicable to questions of compliance with FRAND-related contractual obligations? Though the majority decision did a great job highlighting the distinction between these two different concepts, there was a concurring decision that continues to blur the line.
In Part I of this series, we discussed how patent portfolio managers should be careful when generating company-owned prior art or reviewing competitor prior art, and how a patent litigation or licensing campaign can be significantly hamstrung based on how the United States and Europe consider intervening prior art. In Part II, we will focus on software patents with U.S. and EP family members. The number of software related patent applications that are filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and European Patent Office (EPO) continues to increase despite heightened scrutiny during examination. Further, U.S. courts and national courts in Europe continue to critically analyze the eligibility of software patents.
Technologies such as computer networking, which, unlike software inventions, typically incorporate at least some hardware elements, may be less vulnerable to rejection under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. However, responding to these rejections when they are issued still requires some finesse. In these cases, rejections usually revolve around whether the hardware included in the claims serves as an improvement over existing hardware or is merely used as a tool for a mental process or other abstract idea. If the examiner concludes that the networking hardware merely serves as a tool, the claims usually fail the Alice/Mayo test. However, if you can show that the networking hardware either presents novel features or is improved by the invention to become a more effective tool, you may overcome the rejection.
Building High-Quality Patent Portfolios in the United States and Europe: Part I – Intervening Prior Art
One ingredient that distinguishes a good patent portfolio from a great patent portfolio can be the synergistic strength of its U.S. and European patent family members. To develop this strength, it is not enough to have a U.S. attorney and a European attorney simply coordinate the procedural strategy for filing an application; rather, the drafter and manager of the application should analyze important issues upfront and prepare a patent application that accounts for the substantive differences between U.S. examination, U.S. courts, European examination, and national courts in Europe.
Patent Filings Roundup: Samsung Seeks Declaratory Judgment against Magentar Entities After Settlement; PTAB 325(d) Discretion Highlighted with Four Denials; District Court Litigation Spikes
A banner week saw the district court roaring back to life with 93 new patent filings and over 50 closed cases, including all of the remanded Section 101 rulings in Realtime Data, LLC. Recall that the Federal Circuit remanded that order to Judge Connolly for including insufficient reasoning under step one and step two of the Alice/Mayo inquiry. The order is still sealed, but as it closes the cases again, one must assume it provides additional reasoning and again cancels Realtime’s patents under 101. That particularly litigious entity had sued 134 defendants, and the case has been up and back, as noted.