Posts Tagged: "due process"

Patent Trial and Appeal Board Procedures for IPR Fail to Satisfy the Fifth Amendment

Due process is an essential condition for a fair proceeding involving a matter in which property rights are in dispute. Unfortunately, there is no interpretation of PTAB procedures under which due process applies. PTAB omits due process and is fundamentally unfair. As a consequence, the PTAB conclusions, and the structure and process of PTAB determinations, are unconstitutional.

McCormick and the Separation of Powers Constraints of Patent Invalidation

The argument that patents are private rights is supported by over two centuries of jurisprudence. Patent rights derive from Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which empowers Congress to promote progress by creating laws involving patents and copyrights. The patent bargain exchanges disclosure of new and useful inventions for a limited term exclusive right. The public benefits from the patent bargain in two ways. First, the disclosure enables others to build on the invention. Second, after a twenty year period, the public receives the benefits of the invention for free as the rights flow to the public domain. The patent bargain stimulates incentives to invent, to invest in innovation and to take ex ante risks.

PTAB due process violations raised in brief to Federal Circuit

On September 22nd, a reply brief for appellant Cascades Projection LLC was filed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a case over the validity of patents covering projector technologies which were invented by Gene Dolgoff, the creator of the Star Trek Holodeck. The appeal against Japanese tech conglomerates Epson and Sony asks the Federal Circuit to decide whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) erred in invalidating patent claims held by Cascades Projection and whether the PTAB acted in a manner which violated Cascade Projection’s right to due process under the U.S. Constitution.

PTAB Reversed for Failing to Explain the Basis for its Obviousness Decision

The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the PTAB’s decision in an inter partes review proceeding, finding the Board did not set forth its reasoning for finding the asserted claims obvious in enough detail for the Court to determine whether it was supported by substantial evidence… The Board also did not set forth its reasoning in sufficient detail for the Court to determine whether its obviousness decision was procedurally proper. The Board must comply with certain procedural requirements in conducting an inter partes review under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), including informing the patent owner of “the matters of fact and law asserted,” give the patent owner an opportunity to submit facts and arguments, and permit the patent owner to submit rebuttal evidence.

Federal Circuit holds that due process is not violated when PTAB employs ‘surprise’ claim construction

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a non-precedential decision in Intellectual Ventures II, LLC v. Ericsson, Inc. (2016-1739, 2016-1740, 2016-1741) directed to three related IPRs, denying that the patentee was denied due process when the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) employed a “surprise” claim construction in its opinion that had not been explicitly argued by either side to find the claims obvious. Because the Federal Circuit decided that the patentee had both notice and an opportunity to respond, it held that no due process violation occurred.

Refusal to institute IPR based on reference does not preclude use of reference for motivation to combine

The Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) decision finding a patent owned by Novartis AG and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. (collectively “Novartis”) to be unpatentable as obvious… Refusal by the Board to institute an IPR based on a particular reference does not necessarily preclude the Board from relying on that reference as additional support for a motivation to combine other references. Separate patentability arguments for dependent claims must be clearly argued lest they stand or fall with parent claims. A nexus for non-obviousness due to commercial success must clearly flow from the patented invention and not from subject matter known in the prior art.

Governments’ Thumb on the Scales

These government agencies target successful, inventive U.S. firms. They politicize their processes and disregard the exclusivity that rightfully belongs to patent owners. They take away private property from the creators and give it to favored domestic companies like Samsung and Huawei, which apparently lack the smarts to win fair and square in market-based competition or by ingenuity. It’s time that America put an end to these threats, foreign and domestic. Either you believe in property rights and free enterprise or you don’t… In essence, Chinese, South Korean and FTC officials demand the benefits produced by free markets and property rights for free from American innovators in mobile technology, who took all the risk and made investments in research and development.

Financial CHOICE Act could presage Congressional action on administrative abuses at PTAB

One of the effects of this bill, were it enacted by Congress as currently written, would be to modify the enforcement activities of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Recent coverage of the bill by Bloomberg BNA notes that the proposed legislation would allow parties involved in a legal action to move the action out of SEC tribunal and into U.S. district court… As Bloomberg BNA’s coverage notes, SEC’s in-house tribunals have been criticized in recent months… While the Financial CHOICE Act itself doesn’t pose any direct impact to the U.S. patent system, it does highlight a similar issue playing out at the USPTO in recent years.

Federal Circuit says same PTAB panel can decide both IPR institution and merits

The Federal Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Dyk who was joined by Judge Taranto, first held that 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) did not preclude the Court from hearing Ethicon’s challenge to the authority of the Board to render a final decision. On the merits the panel held that neither the statute nor the Constitution precludes the same panel of the PTAB that made the decision to institute inter partes review from making the final determination. The Federal Circuit also found no error in the Board’s determination that the ’070 patent claims would have been obvious over the prior art. Judge Newman dissented, concluding that in order to restore confidence in the reliability of patents as “investment incentives” the USPTO must conform the inter partes review process to the statute.

Federal Circuit rules Soverain collaterally estopped despite obvious due process concerns

Apparently, despite the fact that there are strict page limits imposed at the Federal Circuit, Soverain was somehow supposed to fully brief all of the issues directly raised by Newegg, as well as all of the issues an activist Federal Circuit could possibly imagine. To call this a ridiculous burden doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. The Federal Circuit is depriving Soverain of property rights without due process, period. The lack of process afforded Soverain both in the Newegg case and in the Victoria Secret case should shock everyone.

Is there a Systematic Denial of Due Process at the USPTO?

After my presentation, as you might expect, I was approached by a number of patent attorneys. Story after story it was the same thing I have heard from so many others — depressing tales of not being able to get a patent. One particularly egregious thing I heard was from a patent attorney who told me about a conversation he recently had with a SPE from one of the business method art units. I don’t know which Art Unit, and frankly I didn’t ask, although it is probably easy enough to narrow down the Art Unit. This patent attorney told me that the SPE said: “we just don’t issue patents unless the Board orders us to.” If that is in fact what was said and is in fact what is happening then there is a systematic denial of due process at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and that is wholly unacceptable.