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Posts Tagged: "Patent Validity"

Using AI to Reduce Transactional Costs of Patent Validity and Infringement Determinations

The United States has a clear need for patent reform, but does our legislature understand how to implement that reform? For decades, a shortcoming to our approach to patent reform has been misidentifying the problem as “patent trolls” (more generally, bad actors). Based on a misidentified problem, we have implemented a decades-long policy to systematically weaken patent rights, in an attempt to deter this archetypal bad actor. If we instead use economic principles to address patent reform, we would understand the root problem to our patent system—exorbitantly bloated transactional costs.

Standard Essential Patents: Statistics and Solutions to the Real Party in Interest Problem

As I noted in part one of my talk at the IPWatchdog Patent Masters Symposium, the validity statistics for SEPs do not look very good at first glance. Thus, according to a 2017 PricewaterhouseCoopers study, plaintiffs in U.S. courts (ignoring patent type) have on average a 33% chance of success—only a 27% chance in the case of telecommunications patents. This chance of success is probably overstated for Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), based on the easy availability of prior art. Indeed, according to RPX’s 2014 study, in the United States, SEPs are likely to be less than half as successful as non-SEPs.In my talk, I pointed to the high invalidation rates in Europe to buttress my point that, at first glance, SEPs seem particularly vulnerable to validity challenges. Thus, in Germany, a supposed nirvana for patent assertion, the authors of the study “Patent Paper Tigers” reviewed the case law of the German Federal Patent Court and the German Federal Court of Justice in nullity matters in the period from 2010 to 2013 and found that: The nullification rate of all Senates of the German Federal Patent Court is 79.08% in total; and the nullification rate at the German Federal Patent Court regarding Software and Telecom patents which are (currently) of particular relevance from an economic point of view is 88.11%. Returning to the point made in the first part of my talk, having noted that most SEP nullification comes from obviousness, and not novelty, there should be no public interest exception to my argument that: unprovoked—that is, without first having made a FRAND offer or counteroffer—serial nullification of SEPs is contrary to the duty to negotiate in good faith and should remove a party’s defense against an injunction to SEPs.

Now, there is a flaw in this theory, and that is that, in the past few years, third parties have emerged that will—for their members or other contracted entities—kill patents.

Are all U.S. Patent Claims Invalid?

Nobel Biocare Srvcs. AG v. Instradent USA, Inc. makes one wonder whether all U.S. patents are invalid, or will eventually become invalid. This case demonstrates that decisions affirming the validity of patent claims by the Federal Circuit are nothing more than advisory opinions. Decisions affirming validity of patent claims are merely a preliminary round in a fight that will last until the patent claims are all finally invalidated.

Federal Circuit Asked to Reconsider IPR Ruling in Context of Database Search Algorithms

On May 9, 2018, Network-1 Technologies, Inc. filed a combined petition for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, requesting reconsideration of the panel’s Claim Construction Ruling in Context of Database Search Algorithms in a consolidated appeal from inter partes review decisions relating to four of Network-1’s patents. 

Federal Circuit Upholds Thales Motion Tracking Patent Asserted against U.S. Government for Second Time

The recent Federal Circuit decision in Elbit Systems of America, LLC v. Thales Visionix, Inc. affirmed a final written decision issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which upheld some claims in an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding challenging the validity of Thales’ U.S. Patent No. 6474159, titled Motion-Tracking and issued in November 2002. The patent claims a system for tracking the motion of an object relative to a moving reference frame using a first inertial sensor mounted on the tracked object, a second inertial sensor mounted on the moving reference frame and an element that receives signals from both inertial sensors to determine an orientation of the object relative to the moving reference frame. The resulting invention enables the use of inertial head-tracking systems for platforms including flight simulators and other vehicular applications.

Federal Circuit Remands PTAB Decision to Uphold Patent Claims Challenged By Nintendo

While the recent decision did uphold the PTAB’s finding of validity of some claims, the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded part of the decision in a way that further highlights the revolving door of validity challenges taking place between the Federal Circuit and the PTAB… The recent Federal Circuit decision on Nintendo’s appeal of the ‘796 final written decision issued by the PTAB found that substantial evidence supports the PTAB’s determination that the challenged claims of the ‘796 patent were adequately supported by the written description of the grandparent application. However, the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded because the panel did not believe all of the challenged claims were reduced to practice as the result of the 1998 working prototype. The existence of a reduction to practice associated with the 1998 working prototype is important because if all of the claims has been reduced to practice with the 1998 working prototype Yasushi would not be prior art.

PTAB Facts: An ugly picture of a tribunal run amok

69% of cases reaching a final decision by the PTAB have all claims invalidated. 82.5% of patents reviewed by PTAB in a final decision are found defective… As the facts laid out in this article show, the PTAB is substantially more likely to find patents to be defective than a Federal District Court. This reality is a significant problem for patent owners, and should be a serious concern for anyone at all concerned with separation of powers. Even after prevailing in Federal District Court, and even after prevailing at the Federal Circuit as VirnetX had done, the PTAB can still invalidate claims already adjudicated as valid by an Article III tribunal. If patents are to be considered any kind of property right (as the statute says) title must at some point quiet, and an Article I administrative tribunal simply cannot have the power to overrule an Article III tribunal. If patent owners cannot have full faith and confidence in the patent granted by the Federal Government, and they similarly cannot have full faith and confidence in a final adjudication by the federal courts, how can they be expected to invest the millions, and sometimes billions, required to bring technology to the marketplace?

PTAB Errors Fatal to Hundreds of Legitimate Patents

There have been 220 patents upheld as valid in real courts and also subject to a final written decision in the PTAB. The PTAB only agreed with the real courts on 52 patents, while disagreeing with them on 168 patents. If the U.S. legal system is the gold-standard, that means the PTAB is erroneously invalidating patents 76% of the time… In the PTAB, generally only two grounds of attack are available – 35 U.S.C. §102 for novelty and 35 U.S.C. §103 for non-obviousness. But in the real court four grounds are available as a defense – along with §102, §103, accused infringers are also afforded validity challenges under 35 U.S.C. §101 for basic patentability and 35 U.S.C. §112 for specification. So how is it that the PTAB invalidates three times as many patents with only half as many grounds available? The only answer is because it is specifically designed to help infringers by bypassing due process protections afforded to inventors in real courts. Apologists will go on to argue that the PTAB had better evidence, better prior art, better experts, better judges – nonsense! The real courts have rules and procedures which are tremendously more thorough, developed, proven, and fair. The PTAB has not and cannot measure up.

Willful Infringement, Opinion Letters, & Post-Halo Trends

In one of the first district court cases to apply Halo, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was confronted with a defendant who obtained a noninfringement opinion sometime around the final day of a 12 to 18 month project. See: Dominion Res. Inc. v. Alstom Grid Inc., No. CV 15-224, 2016 WL 5674713 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 3, 2016) (holding that the defendant’s state of mind on the final day of 12-18 month project was far too late to be defense to willfulness) (appeal pending). The court ruled that opinion letters obtained so long after infringement began, even if still during the period of infringement, did not absolve the defendant of willful infringement under a subjective recklessness standard. Shortly thereafter, the District of Delaware was confronted with a case in which the defendant obtained a noninfringement and invalidity opinion well before litigation, and the defendant even modified designs of the products at issue to conform to recommendations contained therein…

The PTAB Killing Fields: VirnetX patents worth more than $1 billion in district court lost at PTAB

So obviously the patent claims VirnetX has used to pursue infringers such as Apple and Microsoft are not the weak patents that opponents of the patent system claim are the scourge of the system. Well — not so fast! Just because an Article III federal district court confirms the validity of a patent doesn’t mean anything anymore. Indeed, federal courts have become subordinate to the PTAB, which is as ridiculous as it sounds but sadly true. A patent is not valid until an Article I executive tribunal says so, and absolutely no deference is paid to Article III judges of the United States federal courts.

Prepare for More Estoppel if the Supreme Court Reverses Federal Circuit on Partial IPR Institutions

Partial institutions lessen the value of estoppel because the petitioner avoids estoppel on claims that were challenged but not instituted. The PTAB never issues a final written decision for these challenged-but-not-instituted claims. And because estoppel only applies to claims receiving a final written decision, these non-instituted claims escape the estoppel statute See, e.g., Shaw Industries Group v. Automated Creed Systems, 817 F.3d 1293, 1300 (Fed. Cir. 2016). In effect, the PTAB’s current practice saves a petitioner from estoppel on claims it had little chance of invalidating. Thus, under the current practice, a petitioner currently only risks estoppel on claims that it stands a good chance of invalidating. But if the Supreme Court decides as expected, estoppel will attach to all challenged claims of an instituted IPR. Final written decisions will more often include claims found valid, and a petitioner will no longer be able to avoid estoppel for some claims by relying on the PTAB to sort strong challenges from weak ones at the institution stage.

Federal Circuit Clarifies On-Sale Bar Under America Invents Act

In Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharms. USA, Inc., the Federal Circuit reversed the district court and held that Helsinn’s pre-AIA patent claims, “were subject to an invalidating contract for sale prior to the critical date,” and furthermore, “the AIA did not change the statutory meaning of ‘on sale’ in the circumstances involved here.” The asserted claims of the post-AIA patent were also ready for patenting prior to the critical date… The on-sale bar, before and after the AIA, does not require a finding that the offer or sale disclosed the details or claimed features of the invention, so long as the product embodies those features when sold. An invention is reduced to practice, and ready for patenting, when it is reasonably shown to work for its intended purpose, which for a pharmaceutical product is not contingent upon FDA approval.

Recent court rumblings about a narrow scope of IPR estoppel

An Inter Partes Review (IPR) is an important tool for companies that face frequent patent infringement challenges. An IPR is essentially a mini-litigation focusing solely on patent validity conducted before a panel of administrative patent judges sitting in the Patent Trial and Appeal board (PTAB). Once an IPR is initiated, a decision on validity is issued within one year. The narrow focus, fast timing, and lower cost of an IPR, along with certain legal advantages that make proving invalidity easier in an IPR than in a district court, make it an attractive alternative to district court litigation when good invalidity arguments are available.

The Transformation of the American Patent System: Adverse Consequences of Court Decisions

Activist Supreme Court decisions in the last decade have been principally responsible for these changes, stimulated by aggressive technology company incumbent lobbying. The combination of these decisions has had a far greater effect on the patent system and the economy than the Court originally intended. The U.S. is now in a compulsory licensing regime in which large technology incumbents that control at least 80% of collective market share employ an “efficient infringement” model of ignoring patents and forcing patent holders to enforce patent rights in the courts.

Are You Maximizing Your Intellectual Property? Generating more value in the innovation era

Today’s pace of innovation and competitive intensity demand greater protection of new ideas and inventions. Yet intellectual property (IP) management is not a high business priority for many companies. Organizations that fail to recognize IP as a strategic asset put their competitive advantage and profit margins at risk. Companies can circumvent these potentially adverse impacts by maximizing the value of their creativity. Prioritizing and protecting IP assets helps organizations stay in front of competitors and drive greater growth.