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Posts Tagged: "appeals"

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.

Winning Strategies for Getting Past the Five Types of Patent Examiner

Any patent attorney knows that each patent examiner can vary greatly in approach to examination. In this article, five different types of patent examiners and suggest prosecution strategies for each to help you get better outcomes for your clients.

PTAB is Bogged Down by Eligibility Appeals

The low allowance rates and nearly blanket eligibility-rejection issuance in the business-method art units is not without consequence. Beyond disincentivizing innovation, the examination of business-method applications is protracted as the workload at the PTAB is increased. Not only do these results affect the PTO’s operation of handling matters currently at issue, but it results in an unjust postponement of guidance. After the recent adjustments of the eligibility thresholds, examiners and applicants alike are awaiting more precedence to know what can be patent eligible in this space as new patent applications are filed. However, the PTAB has been slow to respond to business-method appeal briefs (surely due to the high volume of appeals), such that decisions are frequently issued at a time when the applicable case law has shifted relative to the filings of the correspond appeal briefs.

ABA asks Federal Circuit to reverse panel’s decision awarding lawyer fees in patent appeal cases

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief today with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, arguing that a provision of U.S. patent law does not give the government the right to be reimbursed for its lawyers’ expenses regardless of which side prevails in a court appeal of an administrative patent decision… The Federal Circuit split 2-1 in determining that the language approved by Congress includes lawyer fees for the USPTO win or lose. The ABA’s amicus brief supports the petition by Nantkwest Inc., which owns the cancer treatment patent application in question, and asks the full Federal Circuit to reverse that decision.

Federal Circuits invalidates patent covering starting a session on one communication-enabled device and transferring it to another

The Federal Circuit decision in the case of CRFD Research v. Matal resolves three appeals involving a single patent: CRFD’s ‘233 patent describing methods and systems that allow a user to begin a session on one communication-enabled device and transfer it to another… Lack of anticipation based on a single reference does not preclude a finding of obviousness based on the same reference. Even if a reference’s is insufficient for anticipation, which is a question of fact, that same reference teachings may be used to find obviousness, a question of law based on underlying factual findings.

Cognitive Dissonance: How the PTAB Reported Appeal Statistics Ruins the Data for Everyone

The PTO reports a case as affirmed if all claims are rejected for at least one issue on appeal and reversed if all claims are reversed for at least one ground of rejection. A case is only reported affirmed-in-part by the PTO’s statistics if at least one claim remains standing, regardless of which legal issue ((§101, §103, §112, etc.) the claim was originally rejected. Since a large portion of PTAB ex parte appeals involve rejections over more than one ground of rejection (between 35%-45% according to this statistical estimate), this reporting process masks what the PTAB is deciding on each legal issue presented to it. Because the USPTO data does not report the outcome of each legal issue in multiple issue cases, it is impossible to collect statistically meaningful data on outcomes of specific legal issues from the data set from the FOIA website.

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse for Cost of the USPTO’s High ex parte Appeal Reversal Rates

As the old saying goes: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. So there seems to be no good reason that the Examining corps’ inability to apply the law to the facts in ex parte appeals should be costing applicants this much money yearly. We should not have 2X higher reversal rates for novelty and obviousness than statutory subject matter. However, until something changes about how the USPTO decides to take cases to the board, it is apparent that patent applicants will continue to have to be patient and pay.

PTAB chief judge Ruschke discusses ex parte appeals, PGR reform and more with PPAC

Ruschke’s claim that only PTAB judges familiar with the technology involved are assigned in ex parte appeals seems false based on what we know has happened in at least one high-profile matter. As previously mentioned, in Ex parte Hiroyuki Itagaki the PTAB ruled a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to be patent ineligible because it is an abstract idea. See PTAB rules MRI machine an Abstract Idea. Judge Hubert Lorin, who authored the opinion in Itagaki, has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.S. in Chemistry according to his LinkedIn profile. Similarly, Judge Matthew Meyers, who was also on the panel, has a B.S. in Biology according to his LinkedIn profile. The third judge, Judge Bibhu Mohanty, does not list his technical expertise on his LinkedIn profile, but we have been told his expertise is also in the chemical area. Therefore, the PTAB does in at least some cases assign cases to judges who are not technically trained in the technology area of the invention

Ex Parte Appeal Oral Hearings: Making Your Case Right Before Decision Time

This data set shows that Oral Hearings are rarely conducted. (See Figure 1.) Across the 72,443 appeals, only 459 (0.63%) appeals had an Oral Hearing… As shown in Figure 4, Oral Hearings were associated with more full-rejection reversals (blue bars). Specifically, the full reversals accounted for 40.3% of the appeals with Oral Hearings, as compared to 32.5% of the appeals without Oral Hearings.

The Federal Circuit should never use Rule 36 if a patent claim is invalidated

What happens if a patent owner who suffered that Rule 36 summary loss to Google at the Federal Circuit were to decide to sue another party – perhaps Apple – on the same claims that were invalidated in the above mentioned hypothetical Google proceeding? No doubt Apple’s attorneys would be rightfully indignant, and if the proceeding were in federal district court you could guarantee there would be sanctions, likely against both the patent owner and the attorneys representing the patent owner. Why? Because those claims have been lost (i.e., invalidated) in a prior proceeding, and it does not matter that Apple was not privy to that prior proceeding. The underlying property right has been lost, and whether the Federal Circuit wants to admit it or not that is binding precedent.

Alice on Dulany Street: How the PTAB handles 101 in ex parte appeals

In many of the decisions, the examiners and appellants had an opportunity to make arguments based on Alice before the PTAB reached a decision. Yet, the outlook has become only more grim for appellants who are hoping that the PTAB will overturn a § 101 rejection. As indicated above, the reversal rate for a § 101 rejection in December 2016 based on Alice was less than 9%. Equally worrying for potential appellants is that some decisions introduced a § 101 rejection even when prior art rejections were reversed. The PTAB seems to have stopped the practice of urging examiners to review the claims for compliance under § 101 in light of Alice, and, instead, has become more active in introducing § 101 rejections on their own.

A Pre-Appeal Brief Conference is a Winning Strategy, Even if it Probably Won’t Lead to Allowance

After several articles and webinars discussing appeals outcomes at the USPTO, we have received numerous requests for Pre-Appeal Brief Conference data to explain how advantageous the program really is for applicants. Using the vast data resources of our system and Public PAIR, we studied all appeals from January 1, 2006 (six months after the program was instituted), to the present day, including pending PBC cases. For the purposes of this article, we were chiefly concerned with the overall effect that a PBC had on the outcome of an appeal. As such, we have indicated that a PBC ended with a “decision for applicant” when the application was either allowed or prosecution was reopened following a PBC decision, regardless of whether the decision was due to the PBC decision itself or a subsequent pre-appeal brief office action. What we found was that, while few PBCs result in an allowance from the PBC decision itself, they have a net positive effect on an application’s overall appeals success. An explanation of our findings follows.

Federal Circuit recognizes its role as only an appellate court in Apple v. Samsung

This decision reestablishes what should always have been the case; namely that the Federal Circuit is an appellate court that does not consider evidence outside the record or engage in fact finding on their own. The Federal Circuit has been increasingly out of control for years, acting as a trial court and jury rather than an appellate court. Hopefully that will end today.

Rule 36 Judgment: The growing problem of one word affrimance by the Federal Circuit

In PCT International, Inc. v. Holland Electronics, LLC, the use of a Rule 36 judgment is particularly disconcerting because the Federal Circuit upheld the issuance of a permanent injunction by the district court. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in eBay v. MercExchange over a decade ago it has become increasingly difficult, indeed at times impossible, for victorious patent owners to enjoy exclusive rights once they have prevailed in a patent infringement litigation. Issuing a Rule 36 judgment where the patent owner was victorious and a permanent injunction stands robs the patent owner community of vital Federal Circuit precedent that could otherwise be used to inform district courts on the appropriateness of this extraordinarily important remedy.

Steps the PTO must take to address low quality patent examination

While any system should always aspire to provide better quality, the patent system included, patent quality is a two way street that requires the Office to look in the mirror and take care of its own internal business. If the Patent Office is truly interested in quality they should take steps to address low quality patent examination, which is unfortunately too common… Having a complete record means that the Office needs to record what is being done and by who, period. No secrets. No more decisions made behind closed doors by unknown actors.