Clarifying Competitor Standing in PTAB Appeals
To seek relief in Federal Court, a plaintiff must demonstrate a personal, legally protectable interest in the outcome of the dispute for which relief is being sought, i.e., must demonstrate standing. The legally protectable interest may be under threat because of a government conduct. In patent disputes, the plaintiff may be an inter partes review (IPR) petitioner who has challenged a patent and is dissatisfied with the final written decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) regarding upholding of patent claims by the PTAB. Here, the decision upholding the claims would be the government conduct complained of. The dissatisfied petitioner may appeal to the Federal Circuit and, to prove standing, allege that it is injured because the decision upholding the claims reduces its ability to compete with the patent owner. If the petitioner has no current interest in practicing the claims, would it have standing? No, it would not, according to the Federal Circuit in Avx Corporation v. Presidio Components, Inc. 2018-1106 (Fed. Cir. May 13, 2019) (“Avx Corp.”), where this scenario played out. The court explained that although “competitor standing” can be found to challenge government actions in certain situations, this was not one of them, as the petitioner was unable to demonstrate any present or nonspeculative interest in engaging in conduct even arguably covered by the claims at issue. Avx Corp. at 9.