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Posts Tagged: "Patent Public Advisory Committee"

PPAC Meeting: Filings Down Less Than Expected Overall, Office Calls on Congress to Release Previously Collected Fees

At the quarterly meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) on Thursday, Acting U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Drew Hirshfeld told attendees that patent filings are presently down 3.9% compared to the same time last year; the Office had projected filings would be down 3.7% for the year in the wake of the pandemic, but since filings have been coming in at a greater rate than expected in the last two months, the models now predict an overall 2% decrease for the year instead.

Iancu: Major PTAB Initiatives Rolled Out, Time to Assess Changes and Stakeholder Reaction

Director Iancu did not make much, if any, news speaking at PPAC today. He did, however, indicate that at least for now his major initiatives to reform the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) have been rolled out, albeit with the last phase still in proposed rule form. Director Iancu indicated that he believes it is necessary now to carefully assess the implementation of these PTAB reforms and consider stakeholder reaction to the changes.

PPAC Fee Hearing Discusses Proposed Increases to Late Payments, AIA Trial Fees

Lisa Jorgenson, executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), asked the agency to better justify the increased surcharge for late maintenance fee payments as well as the increases to IPR and PGR trials. Jorgenson noted that much of the additional work required by SAS Institute would take place after the institution decision and thus it might make more sense to divide the fee increase such that the pre-institution fees bear less of the increase than those charged post-institution. Roland McAndrews of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) also sought additional justification for the 525 percent increase to the late payment surcharge for maintenance fees, noting that the desire to encourage on-time payments alone didn’t support that increase… Josh Malone, inventor of Bunch O Balloons, noted that the day’s hearing on fee increases was “based on an unrealistic and aspirational value proposition,” namely that the fees paid for obtaining a patent would actually result in the grant of a patent which was backed by the full faith of the U.S. government.”

Iancu: More 101 Guidance and PTAB Reforms Coming Soon

Repeatedly during his remarks and the question and answer period, Director Iancu explained that there will be more to come from the USPTO on patent eligibility and PTAB reforms, hopefully with several weeks he explained… “I certainly agree it is important to have certainty of patent rights,” Iancu explained. “The boundaries of a patent cannot possibly depend on the happenstance of which tribunal will review that patent years down the line…”

PTAB Chief Attempts to Explain Expanded Panel Decisions, Sovereign Immunity at PPAC

Given the PTAB’s ability to make decisions precedential, Ruschke’s argument about how important and meaningful it is to have expanded panels to ensure uniformity misses the mark. The PTAB does not designate many cases as precedential (another problem for a different day), but it is possible for a three-judge panel decision to be made precedential. In fact, there have been a number of cases that have been pronounced as precedential by the PTAB where the decision was made by a three-judge panel. That being the case, why is it necessary for any expanded panels unless PTAB leadership is trying to influence Administrative Patent Judges despite the lack of a precedential designation? And doesn’t such an attempt to influence call into question the decisional independence of APJs?

PTAB Chief Ruschke says Expanded Panel Decisions are Conducted in Secret

Ruschke noted that his authority to expand the panels for PTAB trials doesn’t require him to notify the parties in the trial that the decision to expand the panel has been made. In response to questions on panel expansion, Ruschke noted that when the decision to expand the panel has been made, “the parties will find out in the decision when it issues at that point.” So decisions to expand panels are made in secret and parties in the trial only find out about panel expansion after a decision is reached… Interestingly, petitioner General Plastic requested a rehearing with an expanded panel but the expanded panel in that case found that PTAB’s governing statutes do not permit parties to request, or panels to authorize, expanded panels; panel expansion only lies within the Chief Judge’s discretion.

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse for Cost of the USPTO’s High ex parte Appeal Reversal Rates

As the old saying goes: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. So there seems to be no good reason that the Examining corps’ inability to apply the law to the facts in ex parte appeals should be costing applicants this much money yearly. We should not have 2X higher reversal rates for novelty and obviousness than statutory subject matter. However, until something changes about how the USPTO decides to take cases to the board, it is apparent that patent applicants will continue to have to be patient and pay.

PPAC meeting comes and goes with no discussion of PTAB conflicts of interest

At the May PPAC meeting Ruschke deferred questions on issues relating to possible conflicts of interest and specifically indicated the topic of conflicts would be discussed at PPAC’s next quarterly meeting.The PPAC recently convened once again, this time on Thursday, August 3, 2017. No issues of possible conflicts of interest were raised and there was no mention of the conflicts of interest questions that have raised very serious questions about the appearance of impropriety at the PTAB… The blindfold appearing in the common depiction of Lady Justice is there for a reason. It’s time to acknowledge that and fix this problem so that it never happens again. The USPTO must adopt a Code of Judicial Conduct for Administrative Patent Judges.

PTAB chief judge Ruschke discusses ex parte appeals, PGR reform and more with PPAC

Ruschke’s claim that only PTAB judges familiar with the technology involved are assigned in ex parte appeals seems false based on what we know has happened in at least one high-profile matter. As previously mentioned, in Ex parte Hiroyuki Itagaki the PTAB ruled a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to be patent ineligible because it is an abstract idea. See PTAB rules MRI machine an Abstract Idea. Judge Hubert Lorin, who authored the opinion in Itagaki, has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.S. in Chemistry according to his LinkedIn profile. Similarly, Judge Matthew Meyers, who was also on the panel, has a B.S. in Biology according to his LinkedIn profile. The third judge, Judge Bibhu Mohanty, does not list his technical expertise on his LinkedIn profile, but we have been told his expertise is also in the chemical area. Therefore, the PTAB does in at least some cases assign cases to judges who are not technically trained in the technology area of the invention

USPTO diverting fees internally to subsidize PTAB trials

In prepared remarks Director Lee said the Office must significantly raise Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) fees in order for the PTAB to be self-sustaining on a going forward basis. On one hand the fact that Director Lee acknowledged that the PTAB is not self-funding is significant, but her comments dramatically under played what seems to be really happening at the PTAB. The reality appears to be that patent owners and patent applicants are subsidizing the PTAB… [I]t seems the PTAB has been operating at a substantial deficit for some time and even with significant fee increases the Office continues to plan to run PTAB trials at a deficit, which means patent owners and patent applicants will be subsidizing the PTAB and infringers challenging patents moving forward. To call this outrageous is an understatement.

USPTO Announces New Patent and Trademark Advisory Committee Members

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced new Patent and Trademark Advisory Committee Members for the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC)… Marylee Jenkins, Chair, PPAC: Ms. Jenkins is a partner at Arent Fox, LLP, and heads the New York Office’s Intellectual Property Group.

The Increasingly Important Roles of Bloggers in Post Grant Proceedings

Both petitioners’ and patent owners’ reliance on blog articles in the course of post grant proceedings has been approximately equal. However, the manner in which the blog articles were used did vary widely based on the litigator’s position during the proceeding. For petitioners, blog articles were most often cited to construe the claims (Apotex Inc. v. Amgen Inc., IPR2016-01542, Paper 2, p.69), were introduced as previous publications of an expert witness in order to help prove their qualifications (Samsung Electronics Co., v. Papst Licensing, IPR2016-01733, Ex. 1014, p. 99), or were used to bolster the credentials of one or more of the representing attorneys (Google, Inc. et al v. Smartflash, CBM2015-00132, Paper 17, p. 2). For patent owners, blog articles were most often referenced to provide support to summarize and clarify certain legal standards such as claim construction standards (Uniloc USA, Inc. et al v. Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc., IPR2015-01615, Paper 12, p. 8), to clarify legislative history and identify Congressional intent (Coalition for Affordable Drugs VII v. Pozen, IPR2015-01241, Paper 13, p. 47), and to rebut the petitioner’s expert testimony by attacking the expert’s credibility (Coalition for Affordable Drugs VII v. Pharmacyclics, IPR2015-01076, Paper 20, p. 13).

USPTO handling of patent eligibility sparks substantive discussion at PPAC meeting

Bahr explained a number of things, including the reason the USPTO has not updated patent eligibility guidance to address the pro-patent decision of the Federal Circuit in BASCOM v. AT&T. Many in the industry have been critical of the fact that the USPTO, which has been otherwise quick to provide guidance with respect to important precedential decisions, did not provide examiners with guidance in this case which found the software claims at issue patent eligible. Bahr explained that the USPTO did not think the case changed anything they had previously told patent examiners, which is why no further guidance had been issued.