Posts Tagged: "ex parte reexamination"

Federal Circuit Slams USPTO for Granting Ex Parte Reexam to Serial IPR Filer

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled today in a precedential opinion that Alarm.com, which was denied institution on three inter partes review (IPR) petitions it filed against patents owned by Vivint, Inc., could not simply “repackage” arguments raised in its IPR petition to challenge the same patent via ex parte reexamination. The opinion was authored by Chief Judge Moore. In so ruling, the CAFC said that it was “arbitrary and capricious” and an abuse of discretion for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to grant the reexamination request after it had denied the IPRs under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d).

Opticurrent Survives Reexam, Moves Forward with CAFC Appeal on Damages

On February 12, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entered a notice of intent to issue an ex parte reexamination certificate on a patent owned by Opticurrent, LLC, which will confirm all challenged patent claims without any amendments or changes to the specification and drawings. The USPTO’s notice brings an end to a patent battle in which Opticurrent argued that Power Integrations engaged in some unusual gamesmanship to challenge the validity of patent claims asserted against it in district court.

Rule 36 Affirmances at the Federal Circuit – Week of October 8, 2018

During the week of October 8, 2018,  there were five cases involving patents that were decided without an opinion as a result of Rule 36 affirmances at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Three of those cases were issued by panels including Chief Judge Sharon Prost. In two cases, the Federal Circuit upheld district court invalidations of asserted patents whereas another two affirmed rejections of applicants claims by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The last case was a summary affirmance of a victory by German drugmaker Erfindergemeinschaft UroPep over Eli Lilly in the Eastern District of Texas.

Waymo Patent Asserted Against Uber Suffers Setback in Reexamination

he U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a final office action in an ex parte reexamination of a patent owned by Google self-driving car development subsidiary Waymo. As a result of the reexamination, Waymo stands to lose 53 of 56 claims, including all 20 of the patent claims originally issued. The patent in question had been asserted as part of the company’s well-known infringement suit filed against Uber.

Is the Presumption of Validity Dead in Substitute Claims Issued as a Result of Motions to Amend After PTAB Proceedings?

Since the Federal Circuit’s decision in Aqua Products, Inc. v. Matal confirmed that the burden of persuasion on a the patentability of amended claims in a motion to amend in an inter partes review proceeding (and presumably other post issuance PTAB proceedings) is placed on the petitioner, the theoretical rationale for Section 282(a)’s presumption of validity is no longer present for such amended claims.  872 F.3d 1290 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (en banc).  In particular, there is no government agency that is tasked with performing the inquisitorial examination that gave rise to the original presumption.  How can there be a presumption that the government agent charged with examining the patent claims did his or her job, when there is no such person assigned to perform that job?

Federal Circuit invites SAP America to Respond to InvestPic Petition for Rehearing

InvestPic filed a combined petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc on June 19, 2018, making two arguments. First, that the original decision must be vacated and remanded because the claims considered by the district court and the panel were surrendered as the result of two reexaminations that ultimately resulted in the original claims being lost, with new claims awarded in their place. Second, that the panel’s decision is alleged to be inconsistent with decisions of prior panels, which found claims lacking improvements in the physical-realm could still be patent eligible improvements. This second argument goes on to assert that the ruling of the panel would effectively preclude groundbreaking innovations in the field of data science to be considered patent eligible moving forward.

Federal Circuit Hears Oral Arguments on St. Regis Appeal of Tribal Sovereign Immunity

On Monday, June 4th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, a case appealed from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) which asks the appeals court to determine whether tribal sovereign immunity can be asserted to terminate inter partes review (IPR) proceedings at the PTAB. The Federal Circuit panel consisting of Circuit Judges Kimberley Moore, Timothy Dyk and Jimmie Reyna lobbed tough questions at counsel representing appellants St. Regis and Allergan, appellees Mylan and Teva as well as the respondent for the U.S. federal government, without giving much clue as to whether the panel favored the argument offered by any particular side.

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.”

CAFC says PTO Reexamination Should Not Preclude Validity Challenges at District Court

Along with the willfulness finding, the Federal Circuit also overturned findings of no invalidity on a patent that had already survived multiple reexaminations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a decision giving patent owners further reason to question whether the Federal Circuit may be more aligned with anti-patent viewpoints… “We hold that a reexamination confirming patentability of a patent claim alone is not determinative of whether a genuine issue of fact precludes summary judgment of no invalidity,” the Federal Circuit’s opinion reads.

Inventor Appeal to CAFC Challenges PTAB Authority to Invalidate Claims on Remand

D’Agostino’s appeal challenges PTAB authority to entertain invalidity on remand as no part of the IPR statute found in the America Invents Act (AIA) permits PTAB action more than 18 months after institution… The Federal Circuit remanded the reversed claim construction to the PTAB for further proceedings “not inconsistent with [the Court’s] opinion.” On appeal to the Federal Circuit, D’Agostino argued that the PTAB lacked the jurisdiction to entertain unpatentability on remand as no part of the IPR statute found in the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 permits Board action more than 18 months after institution, rendering that decision on remand ultra vires.

Manufacturing Firms and Organizations File Briefs in Oil States

Doubtless there are some manufacturing firms, such as Telebrands, who are great endorsers of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and how that agency has found in favor of copy-cats even as federal courts have repeatedly issued injunctions and found in favor of the inventor of an award winning toy (see here and here).But the manufacturing sector did not all line up in favor of Greene’s Energy Group, although most did. Nevertheless, given that manufacturing firms tend to license patents and do not necessarily develop their own technologies, it is informative to see how this sector feels that the Supreme Court should decide Oil States.

CAFC Denies Enhanced Damages and Lost Profits, Competitor Proves Intervening Rights

In determining indefiniteness of a claim based on a testing method referenced in the patent, courts will evaluate whether the method is well known in the art and could reasonably be adapted for the claimed purpose. Intervening rights is an affirmative defense that may arise when claims are substantially changed after an intervening reexamination. For lost profits, a non-infringing alternative does not have to be a direct substitute; it can be an alternative in a hypothetical market absent the infringing product. Enhanced damages are discretionary and may be declined when willful infringement is not egregious, e.g. in light of its defenses and when patentee amended its claims in reexamination. Irreparable injury based on an erroneous lost profits finding will not stand. Further, a permanent injunction may be reconsidered by evaluating the sales in the actual market after the grant of an injunction.

The Patent Bargain and the Fiction of Administrative ‘Error Correction’ in Inter Partes Reviews

In justifying the constitutionality of the inter partes review (“IPR”) statute enacted by the America Invents Act (“AIA”), a common refrain persistently asserted is that patent rights emanate solely from federal statute and are therefore public rights, derived from a “federal regulatory scheme.” Another reprise is the remedial tenor of the IPR statute: Congress merely authorized a “narrow” post-issuance means for the agency to “correct its own errors.” My paper shows that both contentions above are without merit; that the exclusive patent right emanates from the inventor – not from Congress – and therefore the right adjudicated in IPRs is a “private right”; and that the notion of post-issuance “error correction” is fiction, as it overlooks the irreversible and uncorrectable exchange of rights upon patent issuance.

Federal Circuit Reverses PTAB’s Unreasonably Broad BRI of term

In Re: Smith International, the Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the Board’s construction of “body” was unreasonably broad. While the claims do recite “body” without further elaboration, the specification does not use the term generically… The broadest reasonable interpretation of a term in a patent claim must be consistent with the specification. An analysis looking for whether the broadest possible meaning is proscribed by the specification is a backwards approach to claim interpretations and is improper.

Patentee Fails to Prove Equivalents did not Ensnare the Prior Art

Crafting a proper hypothetical claim is a prerequisite to whether a theory of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents would also ensnare the prior art. The burden to present a proper hypothetical claim cannot be shifted, and a hypothetical claim cannot be broader for the alleged range of equivalents, and not otherwise narrower.