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is Associate General Counsel of Askeladden L.L.C., where he supports all of Askeladden’s Patent Quality Initiative efforts, and Vice President and Associate General Counsel of The Clearing House Payments Company. Before joining The Clearing House, Jim was in private practice where he represented a variety of companies, including technology and financial services companies, in patent litigation and patent prosecution matters.
ABOUT THE PATENT QUALITY INITIATIVE
Askeladden is an education, information and advocacy organization with the goal of improving the understanding, use and reliability of patents in financial services and other industries. As part of its Patent Quality Initiative, Askeladden strives to promote better patents and patent holder behaviors by regularly filing amicus briefs, Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) and engaging in educational activities.
In this regard, a PTAB proceeding is not a suit in court, but instead an administrative proceeding in which the Patent Office (through the PTAB) takes “a second look at an earlier administrative grant of a patent.” Cuozzo, 136 S. Ct. at 2144 (2016); see also Oil States, slip op. at 7 (“[T]he decision to grant a patent is a matter involving public rights—specifically, the grant of a public franchise. Inter partes review is simply a reconsideration of that grant, and Congress has permissibly reserved the PTO’s authority to conduct that reconsideration.”). Like other administrative actions in which States and Federal Agencies (e.g., the Federal Power Commission) may regulate rights or responsibilities of Tribes with respect to off-reservation activities, a PTAB proceeding is one of the “other mechanisms” available to the USPTO to resolve questions of patent validity as the administrative authority granting the patent in the first instance. Cf. Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Cmty., 134 S. Ct. 2024, 2028 (2014).Even if the Tribe cannot be compelled to participate in this proceeding, the PTAB retains authority to adjudicate the validity of patents under review. Indeed, there is no requirement under the AIA that a patent owner participate in a proceeding in order for it to proceed.
The motion of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (“the Tribe”) is based on the misplaced theory that Tribal Sovereign Immunity is applicable to administrative proceedings before the PTAB. While the Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed that, as a matter of judicial construct, Native American Tribes (like the Tribe) can be immune from “suits” in a court absent abrogation or waiver (see Paper 81, at 8), such immunity does not extend to all government action. See, e.g., Kiowa Tribe of Okla. v. Mfg. Techs., Inc., 523 U.S. 751, 755 (1998). In this regard, a PTAB proceeding is not a “suit” in court, but instead an administrative proceeding in which the Office (through the PTAB) takes “a second look at an earlier administrative grant of a patent.” Cuozzo Speed Techs. v. Lee, 136 S. Ct. 2131, 2144 (2016) (“Cuozzo”).