Posts Tagged: "Patent Trial and Appeal Board"

As USPTO Begins Accepting Applications for PTAB Pro Bono Program, Inventor Community Calls for Stronger Action to Curb PTAB Abuses

On June 7, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Director’s Blog published a post authored by USPTO Director Kathi Vidal announcing that the agency is now receiving applications from inventors seeking free legal assistance to bring ex parte appeals of patent examiner rejections to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). While Vidal’s announcement is certainly welcome news to many inventors who are in financial need, it fails to address larger issues faced by inventors at the PTAB that have been voiced by members of Congress and the inventor community alike in recent months.

Vidal to Review Institution of Cases Against VLSI Under Interim Director Review Process

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal has intervened in two Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cases that have caused much controversy in the patent world. Vidal yesterday granted Director Review in both OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01064 and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01229, both of which have been the subject of scrutiny by members of Congress and patent practitioners, since the petitioners involved were incorporated after Intel was found to have infringed VLSI’s patents in district court and have no discernable business operations beyond challenging VLSI’s patent claims. The two entities’ petitions were also nearly identical to inter partes review (IPR) petitions previously filed by Intel that had been rejected by the USPTO.

One Inventor’s Story and Hopes for Kathi Vidal

On Wednesday, May 25, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal and a panel of academics from Silicon Valley participated in a 90-minute, live Q&A webinar regarding the state of the USPTO. I attended virtually. I am a five-time world jump rope champion and the only jump roper to design and patent a jump rope handle technology. I was granted my two patents (US 7,789,809 B2 and US 8,136.208 B2) in 2010/2012. I started my jump rope manufacturing business, JumpNrope, in 2010 here in Louisville, Colorado. I am proud to also say that I source all my jump rope parts and pieces from U.S. vendors. We make all our jump ropes by hand in Colorado. My technology not only changed the sport of jump rope by offering a precision speed jump rope handle, but it also changed the fitness industry. To date, hundreds of companies have infringed on my patent, including Rogue Fitness, the largest fitness distributor for CrossFit and Strongman. As detailed in my case, I believe that Rogue has willfully infringed on my patent since 2012 by selling tens of millions of dollars’ worth of infringing jump ropes per year.

CAFC Clarifies Analysis of Intrinsic Evidence on Indefiniteness, Affirms PTAB’s Denial of Sanctions

On June 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in ClearOne, Inc. v. Shure Acquisition Holdings, Inc. affirming a final written decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which found that a substituted claim  offered by the patent owner, Shure, was not invalid due to an indefinite claim term. The Federal Circuit also affirmed the PTAB’s decision denying ClearOne’s request to file a motion for sanctions against Shure for the patent owner’s alleged violation of the duty to disclose material prior art.

Vidal Tells Tillis and Hirono She’s Working to Curb IPR Abuse

Following a late April request by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI)  to then newly-confirmed United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal asking her to respond to a number of questions surrounding abuse of the inter partes review (IPR) system, Vidal last week sent a letter explaining she is working on the problem. The senators’ April letter had expressed concern over Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions to institute inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC. “The facts and circumstances around these proceedings suggest petitioners OpenSky Industries, LLC (OpenSky) and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC (PQA) brought the proceedings to manipulate the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for their own financial gain,” explained the letter.

Interim USPTO Process Moves the Needle on Transparency – But Predictability May Suffer Without Further Guidance

In a blog post on May 24, just over a month after being sworn in, Director Kathi Vidal stated that one of her priorities is to “accelerate change and communications by adopting interim processes and procedures while [the USPTO] work[s] to finalize.”  A mere two days later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued one such interim process for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision circulation and internal PTAB review. In addition to speed, this interim process is consistent with Director Vidal’s emphasis on transparency by ensuring that the parties to a proceeding and the public know the identity of the decision-makers. Nevertheless, as discussed further in this article, Director Vidal and PTAB Executive Management must be proactive in identifying areas for further publicly-issued guidance. Otherwise, consistency in PTAB decision-making is likely to suffer.

In Arthrex II, CAFC Rejects Arthrex’s Constitutional and FVRA Arguments Challenging Denial of Director Review

On May 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. (Arthrex II) affirming both a final written decision issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) invalidating patent claims owned by Arthrex, as well as several arguments raised by Arthrex challenging the denial of Director review decided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Commissioner for Patents. The opinion, authored by Chief Judge Kimberley Moore, reasoned that the USPTO did not violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate in Arthrex I despite the fact that no presidentially-appointed, senate-confirmed Director was in place at the USPTO when the agency denied Arthrex’s request for Director review.

IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters: Waving a Wand to Fix U.S. Patent Litigation

Day two of IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters Program yesterday included panels on IP Finance, Mega Verdicts in Patent Litigation, Expert Witnesses and the Fintiv Saga. During the latter panel, former U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley joined other speakers to discuss the effects of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) Fintiv decision, a controversial precedential PTAB opinion that outlined factors for the Board to consider in choosing whether to discretionarily deny institution of an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding. Todd Walters of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney presented statistics showing that the rate of denials due to Fintiv has recently fallen off a cliff.

CAFC Affirms PTAB Ruling on Motivation and Expectation of Success Over Newman’s Dissent

On May 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) from an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding where the PTAB concluded that the challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 9,844,379 B2 (the ‘379 patent) were unpatentable as obvious. Ethicon on appeal contended that the PTAB improperly placed the burden of proof on them and that the PTAB’s finding of reasonable expectation of success when the asserted prior art was combined was unsupported by substantial evidence. Ethicon owns the ‘379 patent, which relates to an endoscopic surgical stapling tool. The supposed novelty of the ‘379 patent is “the use of both an I-beam firing member and a no-cartridge safety lockout, such that the lockout blocks the advancement of an I-beam firing member when there is no staple cartridge loaded in the stapling assembly.” The safety mechanism is particularly helpful for endoscopic procedures that require a surgeon to work with reduced visual and tactile feedback when compared to open surgery.

What the PTAB’s CRISPR-Cas9 Decision for Broad Institute Means for Gene Editing Patent Landscape

As previously reported here, on February 28, 2022, in Interference 106,115, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a decision in which it awarded inventive priority to the Broad Institute (Broad) over the University of California (U.C.) on an invention covering applications of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system in eukaryotic cells. This decision purports to award substantial control of the CRISPR-Cas9 patent landscape to Broad. This article provides additional background on CRISPR-Cas9 technology, outlines the critical findings in Interference 106,115 that resulted in the PTAB awarding priority to Broad, and describes the impact of the PTAB’s decision for Broad, U.C., and other companies involved in the development of CRISPR-Cas9 technology.

CAFC Gives Google Second Shot at PTAB in Challenge of Communications Patents

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today vacated and remanded three decisions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that had found Google failed to prove the relevant claims of IPA Technologies, Inc.’s patents to be unpatentable. The CAFC found that the PTAB “failed to resolve fundamental testimonial conflicts in concluding that the relied-upon reference was not prior art.” The patents in question are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,851,115 (“the ’115 patent”) and 7,069,560 (“the ’560 patent”). They cover “a software-based architecture . . . for supporting cooperative task completion by flexible, dynamic configurations of autonomous electronic agents.” Specifically, the patents disclose that “[c]ommunications and cooperation between agents are brokered by one or more facilitators” and that “[t]he facilitators employ strategic reasoning for generating a goal satisfaction plan to fulfill arbitrarily complex goals by users and service requesting agents.” The patents list David L. Martin and Adam J. Cheyer as inventors.

Patent Filings Roundup: Petitions on Key Dupe Patents Denied Under Fintiv; Taxidermy Patent Filings Stuffed

It was a slow week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and a fast one in the district court, with 82 new patent complaints and 85 terminations, but just 18 patent filings at the PTAB. Those few filings were mostly a battery company challenging Maxell patents, a few bigger NPE cases, and Apple and Samsung filing against assertor Smart Mobile Technologies from the middle of last year. Askeladden had a petition denied on the merits, Microchip Technology had a petition denied on General Plastics, and The Hillman Group got four inter partes reviews (IPRs) denied under Fintiv, guaranteeing they will head to trial in the Eastern District of Texas; more below.

Patent Filings Roundup: FintivDenials Over WD of TX, ITC Schedules; Vector Capital-Funded Semi Campaign Hits an IPR Wall

This week saw 60 district court patent complaints, 76 terminations, 26 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions (some post grant reviews [PGRs] in there), and two new Fintiv denials—one PGR and one inter partes review (IPR). Gesture Technology had a handful of IPRs instituted against its asserted portfolio; lots of dismissals from relatively high-profile semiconductor cases suggest either a group or cheap RPX settlement; and a number of older assertion campaigns seemed to wrap up with terminations.

In re Killian: Harvey the Rabbit Comes to the Federal Circuit

In 1950, Jimmy Stewart starred in the iconic movie “Harvey,” which is the story of Elwood P. Dowd, an affable but eccentric man who pals around with an invisible 6’4” rabbit with an affection for martinis and that has the magical power to stop time. In the end of the movie, the viewer is left to believe that some level of insanity in people is good, and that there is some possibility that Harvey actually exists in some form. Fast forward to May 5, 2022. While many Americans were celebrating Cinco de Mayo, the Federal Circuit was asked to address an entity far more fictitious and unbelievable than Harvey the Rabbit, known as “inventive concept,” during oral hearing in In re Killian (Appeal No. 21-2113).

Patent Filings Roundup: Third VLSI Trial on Fintiv-Denied Patents Postponed Over COVID Outbreak; Funded Single-Patent Semiconductor Campaign Files in ITC, District Courts; 225 Anonymous Platform Defendants Sued on Single Patent

My 40th birthday this week brought another litigation explosion (I assume no causation), with 120 new suits, double the average, though a spike is common at the ends of months and quarters; the new filings are dominated by filings by IP Edge, DynaIP, IP Valuation, and to a far lesser extent, Leigh Rothschild’s subsidiaries. There were a typical 30 inter partes reviews (IPRs) and no discretionary denials last week, coupled with an average 79 terminations in district court. A new abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) Paragraph IV suit was launched—GE Healthcare challenging the three remaining patents over their ANDA application to bring a generic Lexiscan® drug to market, against brand Astellas and Gilead. New funded semiconductor litigation and further trial postponements in VLSI rounded out this week.