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Posts Tagged: "PTAB 5th Anniversary"

It’s Time to Stop PTAB Gamesmanship

The next several weeks will see much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth about Allergan’s transaction with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. Our point is not to engage in futile “what about-ism…” but rather to illustrate how the PTAB is inherently subject to gamesmanship — from all directions — that destroys systemic credibility, which is undeniably bad for all parties, not just the one whose ox got gored today. As an administrative tribunal, the PTAB isn’t limited to resolving actual “cases or controversies” between parties like Article III courts are. The gates are open to all comers, and so are the unintended consequences.

A Look Back at the Legislative Origin of IPRs

Those now familiar with IPR proceedings will already have recognized how little resemblance current IPR proceedings have to what most supporters of the AIA envisioned upon its passage. In current practice, the role of the Director as an independent IPR gatekeeper never materialized because the USPTO’s implementing rules bypass the Director altogether, assigning the institution function to the PTAB, which in turn routinely assigns both the institution and final decisions to the same three judge panel. As a result, most of the safeguards against patent owner harassment were lost…. By failing to adopt the implementing rules needed to carry out the intent of the AIA, and by adopting other rules and procedures that are plainly skewed towards petitioners, the PTAB has intentionally tilted its IPR proceedings against patent owners. While this has been good for the PTAB, which has quadrupled in size, it was neither Congress’s intent nor that of most of AIA’s supporters to create an unfair IPR patent “killing field.”

Raid on Gibraltar: How the U.S. Patent System was Rigged Against Independent Inventors

The numbers are stark. As recently as 1990, individual inventors were granted 17 percent of all patents. By 2000, they received 12 percent and only 6.8 percent in 2010. In 2015, individual inventors were granted only 5.8 percent of all patents. In sum, if there is any example of a nation squandering its technological seed corn, this systematic weakening of U.S. patent protections for some “guy in the garage” is it. The great irony is that most of the people behind the screen in all this got their start in that same “garage.” They know this all too well, which is why they’re relieved to see the garage all but Closed for Business.

Five Years after the AIA Created the PTAB

I want to believe Congress ultimately sought to strengthen the U.S. patent system with the AIA by providing a mechanism to more easily remove a small percentage of granted patents that were being inappropriately used in litigation. Specifically, patents that were being asserted with claim constructions not contemplated when the patent was examined. After all, Congress had been heavily lobbied with the narrative that NPE’s had been stretching patents well beyond the four corners of the granted patent and hurting the integrity of the patent system.

The PTAB’s dramatic effect on patent value and corresponding disincentives to capital allocation

Whether one celebrates or decries the PTAB, there can be little doubt that it has worked a profound effect on the value of American patents—and, concomitantly, on incentives to invest in research and development… Compared to their judicial counterparts, PTAB judges are biased in favor of invalidity. Personnel differences also explain a more disturbing phenomenon, mainly, that the Patent and Trademark Office seems to be at war with itself. Frequently, the PTAB invalidates claims based on prior art that examiners considered during initial prosecution. The only explanation for such discordant outcomes is that PTO examiners take a more pro-patent view of validity than the judges who make up the PTAB.

The failed PTAB experiment has been a colossal mistake

The five year experiment of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a colossal mistake. It is a failure to inventors, startups, early stage investors, job creation, economic growth, our national standing, and most importantly, our national security. The extraordinary damage of the PTAB on so many levels cannot be overstated. I’ve always believed that it’s okay to make a mistake. A mistake can be corrected. But the real sin is ignoring that mistake and watching it become a disaster. Congress made a huge mistake in creating the PTAB. If Congress ignores it, it will absolutely become a national disaster. And, we are on the brink of that national disaster right now.

The Increasingly Powerful PTAB: Underutilized Precedential Designations Undermines Efficiency and Consistency

The PTO has increased the number of Board decisions as being precedential (so as to serve as a binding authority) by 36% within the last two years. With respect to the increase in precedential decisions: while a 36% increase is substantial, that translates into only an additional 10 precedential decisions – 2 ex parte appeals and 8 IPRs. The current total number of precedential decisions is 38, broken down into 27 ex parte appeals, 2 interferences, 8 IPRs and 1 CBM. Compare these numbers to the number of ex parte appeals and AIA petitions received in 2017 alone (10165 ex parte appeals, 1853 IPR petitions, 54 CBM petitions, and 40 post-grant review petitions).

Crossing the Chasm: Avoiding and Surviving the PTAB

In 2012, the American Invents Act established three new administrative procedures: post grant review (PGR), inter-partes review (IPR), and covered business method patent (CBM) review. In each of these proceedings, anyone may file a petition challenging the validity of an issued patent. Patent practitioners have long been trained to draft patents that survive litigation. It is no secret that most asserted patents now end up before the PTAB, and the PTAB tends to use different rules that favor the challenger. As we approach the five year anniversary of the PTAB, patent practitioners should reconsider long-held strategies. BRI and evidence standards adopted by the PTAB make surviving post-grant proceedings especially challenging. Pursue a narrowly-focused patent with clear and unambiguous terms, to avoid post-grant proceedings or survive them when instituted. A robust prosecution that addresses a range of issues, corrects Examiner’s errors, and places evidence on the record helps achieve the same goals.

How the New USPTO Director Can Impact Patent Subject Matter Eligibility and Post-Patent Grant Challenge Proceedings

As the challenge proceedings and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board mark their fifth anniversary, we should reflect on whether they have achieved their intended purpose. About a year ago I explained how inter partes review proceedings are no more a true alternative for litigation than the inter partes reexamination proceeding which they replaced and supposedly improved upon – nothing has happened since to change that view. Furthermore, a buffet of other meaty issues remains with respect to the post-grant challenge proceedings… I continue to support the original goals of the challenge proceedings and while changes in some areas are required, a wholesale restructuring of the procedures is not necessarily required. But I do look forward to changes that improve the balance between patentees and challengers.

A Review at Five Years of Inter Partes Review

Post grant procedures can be an effective and efficient way of promoting patent quality by invalidating weak, inappropriately granted patents. What we need now is thoughtful review and assessment, based upon five years of experience about what is working and what needs to be done to improve the system. The above issues need to be watched and analyzed, and, if appropriate, modifications need to be suggested and tried. Many improvements can be made by the USPTO itself through transparent rule-making. Some may need legislative intervention. But there is no need to throw out the entire process. We should learn from what has happened before and be willing to improve the system for the benefit of innovation in our country and the continued growth of our economy.

Lessons from Five Years of PTAB Trials

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the effective date of Patent Trial and Appeal Board trials on September 16, we find that the early years of the practice have been a learning experience both for the PTAB and for PTAB practitioners.  Reflecting on the past five years, three key lessons emerge for practitioners, from practice and directly from the APJs presiding over these cases when they have spoken on topic: Follow the rules, including those that are explicit and those that are unspoken, know your audience, and focus on the facts.  

The only solution for the transgressions of the PTAB is to disband this runaway tribunal

Hiring senior associates to be Administrative Patent Judges was a mistake, hiring so many senior associates from the same firm was an even bigger mistake. Making it clear that their job was to kill patents at all costs was inexcusable. Interpreting the rules at every turn to be disadvantageous to patent owners is un-American, violates fundamental notions of fairness of procedure, and tilts the balance so heavily toward challengers that it has become more feared by patent owners than any government agency or body. In short, the PTAB has destroyed the U.S. patent system and the value of U.S. patents. In my opinion, the only solution for the very serious transgressions of the PTAB is to disband this runaway tribunal.