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Posts Tagged: "joinder"

CAFC: Parties Joined in IPRs are Not Estopped from Raising New Invalidity Grounds in District Court

On September 24, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed-in-part and reversed-in-part the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas’s claim construction and remanded to the district court in Network-1 Technologies, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Company. In particular, the CAFC concluded that the district court erred in construing the claim term “main power source” and held that a party joined to an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding is not estopped from raising new invalidity grounds in district court, since the joinder provision does not allow parties to raise grounds not already instituted. The CAFC ultimately affirmed-in-part, reversed-in-part, vacated and remanded the district court’s judgment for a new trial on infringement.

Split CAFC Holds That a State Asserting Sovereign Immunity May Not Be Joined as Involuntary Plaintiff

On July 24, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas that a State asserting sovereign immunity could not be joined as an involuntary plaintiff, but dissented from the district court’s holding that the case could not proceed in the State’s absence. Gensetix, Inc. v. Baylor College of Medicine. Judges Newman and Taranto each wrote separately in partially dissenting from different aspects of the majority’s opinion.

USPTO and Facebook Submit Briefs Explaining Effects of Thryv Ruling on Facebook v. Windy City

Last week, Facebook and the USPTO both filed briefs in response to a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Order requesting that the parties and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) file supplemental briefs explaining their views regarding the effect of the Supreme Court’s April 20, 2020 decision in Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Techs, LP on the CAFC’s March 18, 2020 decision in Facebook v. Windy City Innovations.  In Facebook, the CAFC ruled that the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) erred both in allowing Facebook to join itself to a proceeding in which it was already a party, and in allowing Facebook to add new claims to the inter partes reviews (IPRs) at issue through that joinder.

Examining the USPTO’s First Precedential Opinion Panel Decision

The first decision issued by the new USPTO Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) tackled the difficult issues of statutory interpretation of sections 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) and 35 U.S.C. § 315(c). In sum, the Board determined that both same party and issue joinder is proper in inter partes reviews (IPRs). The Board also determined that otherwise time-barred petitions are proper when accompanied by a joinder request to a pending IPR. The Board interpreted the statute in a manner to maintain broad discretion for the Agency. The POP could have properly interpreted Section 315(c) by first focusing on the statutory language “join as a party” as being limited to any person not already a party. Instead, the decision dismissed this viewpoint and stated that “the statutory phrase ‘any person’ broadly applies to the phrase ‘join as a party’.” Although I disagree with the emphasis on “any person,” I anticipate that the Board’s reasoning on both same party and issue joinder would be upheld as proper statutory interpretations by the Federal Circuit, if appealed.

USPTO Precedential Opinion Panel Delivers Lukewarm Attempt to Streamline PTAB Policy

In September 2018, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the substantial revision of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the paneling of matters before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) (SOP1) and precedential and informative decisions (SOP2), based upon feedback the Office received from stakeholders, courts, legislators, and six years of experience with America Invents Act (AIA) trial proceedings. Now, the USPTO’s Precedential Opinion Panel (POP)—which includes USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld, and Acting Chief Administrative Patent Judge Scott Boalick—has issued its first ever decision, holding that a petitioner may be joined to a proceeding in which it is already a party; that the Board has discretion to allow joinder of new issues in an existing proceeding; and that the existence of a time bar under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) is one of several factors to consider when exercising this discretion. Despite that guidance, the POP emphasized that such discretion should be used only in limited circumstances, “namely, where fairness requires it and to avoid undue prejudice to a party.” Because the instant request for joinder was filed as a result of Petitioner’s errors, the Board dismissed the IPR petition, noting that “there are no fairness or undue prejudice concerns implicated, and the Petition is otherwise time-barred under § 315(b).”

PTAB fails to decide IPR within 1-year statutory deadline

According to 35 U.S.C. § 316(a)(11), the PTAB is required to issue a final determination in an inter partes review not later than 1-year after the date of a decision to institute review is made… That the PTAB has not extended a single case for cause should not be confused with the PTAB following the mandates of § 316(a)(11). Indeed, the parties have been waiting for a decision in IPR2016-00237 for more than 14 months… It seems that the PTAB is here, and presumably in other joinder cases, giving itself more than 1-year without a showing of cause. If that is the case the PTAB is intentionally misreading § 316(a)(11) in order to construe it to give themselves 1-year from the last joinder Order rather than 1-year from the date of institution as the statute requires.

Federal Circuit dodges IPR joinder challenge because claims ruled obvious

Nidec argued that the Board improperly applied the joinder and time bar statutes. The Court held that it need not resolve this dispute because it affirmed the Board’s conclusion that all of the challenged claims are unpatentable as obvious. There was no dispute that the first petition was timely filed, and the joinder issues on appeal related only to the Board’s ruling on anticipation, which ultimately did not affect the outcome of the case… The Federal Circuit does not decide issues which have no effect on the outcome of the case. Thus, Board’s ruling that a party may add new issues to an IPR by joining two IPR proceedings was undisturbed and was endorsed in concurring opinion by two Federal Circuit judges.

Patent Reform 101 – A Primer on Pending Patent Legislation

Patent reform is the new normal and we can expect that it will continually be raised in every new Congress for the foreseeable future. Currently there are four serious proposals for patent reform in various stages of consideration in Congress. They are: (1) The Innovation Act; (2) The TROL Act; (3) the STRONG Patents Act; and (4) the PATENT Act. There is also another bill – the Innovation Protection Act – that likely has no chance of passing but which is eminently reasonable. A summary of each of these five bills follows, along with one thing to watch for which could completely upset all predictions.

House Judiciary Committee Questions PTO Director Lee on Innovation Act

There were statements recognizing the need to keep open legitimate avenues to for innovators to protect themselves against infringement, and a strong desire to make sure that legislation focus on bad actions and actors. Not surprisingly, the Committee seems to largely think that the Innovation Act does strike the proper balance, although there was also recognition that changes could be made to make the bill better. USPTO Director Michelle Lee was wholeheartedly in support of fee shifting, justifying the position by saying that fault based fee-shifting will raise the costs for those who engage in abusive actions.

Decrease in patent litigation questions need for patent reform

In 2014 there were 1,070 fewer patent lawsuits filed than during 2013. Furthermore, the number of patent cases filed in 2014 was lower than the number of cases filed in 2012 by some 433 cases. Therefore, the stories of continued run away litigation seem to be greatly exaggerated. Given the dramatic decrease in patent litigation it seems entirely premature for Congress to be considering additional patent reform at this early stage.

Raising the Cost of Enforcing Patents: ‘Patent Reform’ Prices Small Businesses Out of the Inventing Business

The US House passed the Innovation Act (HR3309) in December 2013. The Senate is now well on its way to incorporating this legislation which will make Americans poorer. The bills have many problems that will inhibit small inventors, but the most insidious are “Loser Pays” and “Pay to Play”. It changes the law, singling out inventors as a class so onerous that only they must pay the other side’s legal fees if they don’t win every claim. Pay to Play makes inventors guarantee payment up-front. Some proposed Senate bills (e.g.: S.1013 & S.1612) make sure that almost all Americans and most small companies will never be able to afford to enforce their patents on their inventions.

Patent Legislation Compared: Joinder of Interested Parties

Opponents of the rule point out that it could lead to unwilling and unnecessary joinder — a point raised particularly by universities and venture capitalists who fear they may be hauled into costly patent litigation against their will if their licensees/startups ever need to enforce their patent rights in court. Still others point to the fact that these joinder provisions would only apply to patent cases — and only against plaintiffs — and would thus create a litigation process unique to patents in district courts. Furthermore, district court judges would lose most of their existing broad discretion to determine whether the facts truly warrant joinder in each unique case.

Unite to Fight Patent Reform Legislation

“Today, Congress is under another call to weaken patent protection. This time the alleged culprit is a so-called “patent troll” who, according to some reports, hijacks inventions and while providing no product and therefore no societal value, extorts billions of dollars from the economy. This story could not be further from the truth. The argument is based on highly questionable data. Some of the claims are that patents asserted by so-called “patent trolls” are much weaker than patents asserted by others, that these entities cause billions of dollars of unnecessary cost, and that the number of patent infringement lawsuits has risen dramatically due to the so-called “patent trolls.” All of these assertions are highly disputed.”

A Summary of the Goodlatte Patent Bill Discussion Draft

EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is a summary of the Goodlatte patent bill created by American Continental Group, which is a government affairs and strategic consulting firm in Washington, DC. Manus Cooney, a former Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee is one of the partners at ACG, and is also frequent guest contributor on IPWatchdog.com. Cooney and his partners and associates worked to prepare this summary, which was described as a team effort. It is republished here with permission.

Probing 10 Patent Troll Myths – A Factured Fairytale Part 2

There are many myths that are attached to the fable of the so-called “patent troll.” Acting like the MythBusters, we probed some of them. For example, the success rate of NPEs overall across 267 random cases indicates that the litigation outcome for NPE suits looks very similar to litigation outcome for Producer suits. However, when individual inventor suits and individual inventor company suits were removed from the mix of overall NPEs, we found that non-independent inventor NPEs had an outcome profile that looked significantly better than the Producers, both in very likely favorable and likely unfavorable outcomes in litigation.