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Posts Tagged: "broadest reasonable interpretation"

Professors Expand Upon Proposals to Senate IP Subcommittee for Improving Patent Quality

On October 30, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property heard from five witnesses on ways to improve patent quality at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Subcommittee subsequently posed questions to the witnesses, including professors Colleen Chien, R. Polk Wagner, and Melissa Wasserman, to supplement their testimony. Those witnesses have now submitted their responses, which expand upon their various suggestions for improving patent quality.

Recent PTAB Decisions Provide a Roadmap for Combating Broadest “Unreasonable” Interpretation

As I have previously reported on KSJ Law, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued 80 decisions on appeals in October, and reversed the examiner in 24 of those. Claim construction was at issue in several, and the PTAB made several comments, supported by case law, that will be useful to those laboring against “broadest reasonable interpretations” that are, in fact, not reasonable. Taken together, these recent decisions provide a road map for first arguing against a broadest reasonable interpretation that is overly broad and unreasonable, thereby supporting the conclusion that a prima facie case against the properly construed claims has not been made.

CAFC Affirms PTAB Win for Patent Owner in Nonprecedential Decision, Chief Prost Dissents

The Federal Circuit recently issued a nonprecedential opinion in Amazon.com, Inc. v. ZitoVault, LLC, affirming a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that e-commerce giant Amazon failed to prove a patent owned by security solutions provider ZitoVault was unpatentable. The Federal Circuit majority of Circuit Judges Kara Stoll and Kathleen O’Malley disagreed with Amazon’s that the PTAB erred in its claim construction. Dissenting, Chief Judge Sharon Prost wrote that she believed the PTAB’s analysis of a specific claim term was flawed, and she would have vacated the PTAB decision and remanded the case for further consideration. The patent-at-issue was ZitoVault’s U.S. Patent No. 6484257, titled System and Method for Maintaining N Number of Simultaneous Cryptographic Sessions Using a Distributed Computing Environment. Issued in November 2002, it claims a software architecture for conducting a plurality of cryptographic sessions over a distributed computing environment.

Harmonizing the PTAB: Iancu calls change to Phillips ‘critically important’

“It seems self-evident that the same patent contested in different tribunals should have its meaning – its boundaries – determined using the same standard,” Director Iancu said when discussing the final rules implementing the Phillips standard at the PTAB… Those few who were not pleased by the change have cited a believe that the change to the Phillips standard would usher in a return to lower quality patents. With a bit of a confrontational tone, Director Iancu took issue with that, finding the argument without merit.

Federal Circuit Vacates PTAB Decision for Failure to Consider Ericsson Reply Brief

In its decision, the Federal Circuit noted that the PTAB is entitled to strike arguments improperly raised in a reply brief under 37 CFR § 42.23(b). However, the appellate court disagreed that Ericsson raised a new theory in its reply brief and thus the Board erred in not considering those portions of the reply brief. “The Board’s error was parsing Ericsson’s arguments on reply with too fine of a filter,” the Federal Circuit found. Ericsson’s petition for IPR described how a person with ordinary skill in the art would be familiar with the concept of interleaving. The CAFC further found that the PTAB’s error was exacerbated by the fact that the new claim constructions proposed by Intellectual Ventures after institution gave rise to the significance of interleaving in the proceeding. In light of this, the Federal Circuit found that Ericsson deserved an opportunity to respond to the new construction.

NYIPLA Endorses Patent Office Change to Phillips Claim Construction Standard

The proposed rule would adopt the narrower standard articulated by the Federal Circuit in Phillips v. AWH Corp., where the “words of a claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning,” which is “the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention.” 415 F.3d 1303, 1312-13 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Additionally, under the proposed approach, the Patent Office would construe patent claims and proposed claims based on the record of AIA proceeding, and take into account the claim language, specification, and prosecution history. In response to the Patent Office’s notice of proposed rulemaking, the New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) recently submitted comments endorsing the Patent Office’s proposed changes.

Congresswoman Lofgren Sends Letter to USPTO Director Iancu Opposing Proposed Changes to Claim Construction Rule at PTAB

Congresswoman Lofgren is now opposing a rule change she previously endorsed as an original co-sponsor of a bill that would have changed the claim construction rule in exactly the same way proposed by Director Iancu… But how is adopting a rule that would have already been the law had Lofgren had her way possibly frustrate or disregard Congress? Of course, we aren’t supposed to ask that question. Once the “patent troll” boogeyman card is played everything else is supposed to fade away.

Lofgren Supported Eliminating BRI Before She Was Against It

Congresswoman Lofgren seems quick to forget that she was one of the original co-sponsors of the Innovation Act when it was introduced into the House back in February 2015. Had the Innovation Act passed, it would have required patents challenged in IPR proceedings to be construed in the exact same manner that a district court would have required in a civil action to invalidate the patent. So, it seems Lofgren was for the Phillips standard and eliminating BRI before she was against it.

PTO Proposes Rulemaking to Implement Phillips Claim Construction at PTAB

Earlier today the USPTO announced proposed rulemaking that would change the prior policy of using the Broadest Reasonable Interpretation (BRI) standard for construing unexpired and proposed amended patent claims in PTAB proceedings under the America Invents Act and instead use the Phillips claim construction standard.. The new standard proposed by the USPTO is the same as the standard applied in Article III federal courts and International Trade Commission (ITC) proceedings, a change critics of the PTAB process have urged for many years in order to bring uniformity to post grant challenges across forums… The USPTO is also proposing to amend the rules for PTAB trials to add that the USPTO will consider any prior claim construction determination concerning a term of the claim in a civil action, or an ITC proceeding, that is timely made of record in an Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post Grant Review (PGR), or Covered Business Method (CBM) proceeding.

Federal Circuit Affirmed Obviousness of ‘435 Patent Claims

The broadest reasonable construction of “sterilant concentration levels” encompassed both the “gas laden” (or “in air”) sterilant levels and the residual sterilant levels. Nothing in the specification or the claims supported a construction limited to one or excluding the other.

BRI does not allow unfettered license to disregard inventor’s description of the invention

The Court took issue with the PTO’s construction of “coupled.” While the “broadest reasonable interpretation” applies at the PTO, that interpretation must be consistent with the specification, and does not allow “unfettered license to interpret the words in a claim.” The Court pointed to several portions of the specification that support a narrower construction of “coupled”, noting that the patent “strives to eliminate unnecessary components and create a more compact circuit.”

BRI and how it increases an obviousness determination

Owens Corning v. Fast Felt (Fed. Cir. 2017) illustrates an example of how the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard increases the chances that an obviousness argument could successfully invalidate a patent claim during a post grant patent review proceeding; and make it more difficult to overcome an obviousness rejection during patent prosecution. It also illustrates how broadening a claimed invention’s field of use could be detrimental to the claim’s validity and make it harder to overcome an obviousness rejection. 

Federal Circuit reverses Board on erroneous application of the broadest reasonable interpretation

The Federal Circuit concluded that the Board’s construction of the term ‘body’ was unreasonably broad even given proper usage of the broadest reasonable interpretation claim standard… This ruling obviously makes perfect sense. Absent a comprehensive glossary that defines each and every term appearing in a patent application it would be impossible for any applicant to ever proscribe and/or preclude any and all possible broad readings for various terms that a patent examiner may come up with after the fact. Defining every term has never been required and anticipating frivolous examiner arguments has never been required, and is in fact considered inappropriate.

Crossing the Chasm: Avoiding and Surviving the PTAB

In 2012, the American Invents Act established three new administrative procedures: post grant review (PGR), inter-partes review (IPR), and covered business method patent (CBM) review. In each of these proceedings, anyone may file a petition challenging the validity of an issued patent. Patent practitioners have long been trained to draft patents that survive litigation. It is no secret that most asserted patents now end up before the PTAB, and the PTAB tends to use different rules that favor the challenger. As we approach the five year anniversary of the PTAB, patent practitioners should reconsider long-held strategies. BRI and evidence standards adopted by the PTAB make surviving post-grant proceedings especially challenging. Pursue a narrowly-focused patent with clear and unambiguous terms, to avoid post-grant proceedings or survive them when instituted. A robust prosecution that addresses a range of issues, corrects Examiner’s errors, and places evidence on the record helps achieve the same goals.

Taking stock of the health of the American patent system, a system in crisis

“In our time together today we are going to try and take stock of the health of the American patent system,” Michel began. “It is important to remember that the patent system was founded in the Constitution… and although the world ‘right’ appears many times in the Bill of Rights, in the original Constitution the only ‘right’ mentioned is the patent right.”… Investment is being disincentivized by uncertainty created by the aforementioned three waves of changes to the system. We should be looking at the impact on the flow of money, Michel explained.