The Honeymoon is Over: Time for Iancu to Take Action on PTAB Harassment of Patent Owners
Just over 18 months ago, Andrei Iancu assumed control of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As the Director of the USPTO, Iancu has changed the tone of the conversation over patents in America. During President Obama’s second term the USPTO became aggressively anti-patent and anti-innovator. The speeches, policies and inaction of Director Michelle Lee led innovators and observers to correctly claim that the Obama Administration had come to champion the viewpoints of infringers, not the technology innovators. Director Iancu changed that almost overnight. Where Director Iancu has failed, however, is with respect to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). With great fanfare, Director Iancu created a Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) that we were told would result in more decisions of the PTAB being declared precedential on the entire PTAB. There was hope that the POP would address the most important issues, such as serial challenges to the same patent over and over again, the use of the same prior art over and over again, and once and for all require the PTAB to apply the Federal Circuit view of what it means to be a real party and interest. Unfortunately, real reform of the PTAB has not happened despite tinkering with the Trial Guide. In important ways the PTAB is worse, and the efforts that have been undertaken incorrectly form the appearance of reform.