Posts Tagged: "PTAB"

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.

CAFC Dismisses Appeal of PTAB Determination Because it Partially Involved Time-Bar

On May 13, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed Bennett Regulator Guards, Inc.’s (Bennett) challenge of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision to vacate the institution of an inter partes review (IPR), citing a lack of jurisdiction, since the PTAB’s decision was based in part on its reconsideration of whether the petitioner was time barred from petitioning for IPR under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). Judge Pauline Newman dissented.

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.

Weaponization of the PTAB Presents First Challenge for Vidal

On April 27, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), both members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, wrote to Kathi Vidal, the newly confirmed Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to inquire as to why the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is allowing itself to become weaponized. “We write to express our concern about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) recent decisions to institute inter partes reviews (IPRs) in OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC,” wrote Hirono and Tillis, who would go on to point out that the “facts and circumstances” suggest that the challengers “brought the proceedings to manipulate the [USPTO] for their own financial gain.”

Google General Counsel’s Clarion Call for U.S. Patent System Reform Should Not Be Heeded

On April 28, Google’s General Counsel Halimah DeLaine Prado authored a post published on Google’s official blog to voice concerns felt by one of the world’s richest corporations that the U.S. patent system is currently in a state of growing crisis. The post offers several suggestions, each sanctioned by Google, as to steps that can be taken in all three branches of the U.S. federal government to address patent quality, abusive litigation and forum shopping. Unfortunately, the proposed reforms would help very little, if at all, toward improving certainty and clarity in patent rights in a way that would actually improve American innovation by supporting small startups and individual inventors in our country. Indeed, any informed observer of the U.S. patent system would recognize that Google’s proposed reforms would instead do a great deal to advance Google’s own business interests ahead of those startups and individual inventors who need the patent system to work in order to survive.

Reyna Splits from CAFC on Weight of General Industry Skepticism in Obviousness Analysis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday, April 29, held that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) erred in finding that Auris Health, Inc. had failed to demonstrate that the claims of Intuitive Surgical Operations, Inc.’s patent for robotic surgery systems were unpatentable as obvious. The CAFC said the PTAB impermissibly rested its motivation-to-combine finding on evidence of “general skepticism” about the field of invention and thus vacated and remanded.

Hirono and Tillis Give Vidal One Month to Answer Questions on Abuse of PTAB Process

Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a letter yesterday to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal to express their concern over the 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,” explains the letter.

Patent Filings Roundup: Litigation Finance Disclosures in Delaware Standardized; Impossible Burger Patent Challenged; Slew of Discretionary Denials

With an average 33 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings (one post grant review, the rest inter partes reviews[IPRs]), a relatively high number (89) of district court terminations (including some high-profile settlements), and a somewhat low number (63) of suits this week, we are rolling into May. Chief Judge Connolly of the U.S. District Court for the District Court of Delaware  filed a standing order in all of his cases requiring litigation funding disclosures; there were more filings by more Magentar entities (who, by last count, are up to 15 high-profile litigation funded campaigns), and more IPR counters; and still more IPRs (22 or 23) in the Israeli-based Bright Data assertion campaign. The patents there are a range, but are based, broadly, on Internet connectivity.

Federal Circuit Signals Appetite for Increased PTAB Discretion in Motions to Amend

Patent owners facing inter partes review (IPR) challenges have the option of filing a motion to amend as a contingency plan. This motion, accompanied by proposed substitute claims, allows the patent owner a fallback position if the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finds the original claims unpatentable. If successful, despite the unpatentability of the original claims, the patent owner maintains the substitute claims. While this sounds great in concept, the historical success rate of such motions is low. From October 2012 through March 2020, only 14% of motions to amend were granted. This improved slightly in 2020, to 25%, but dropped back to 18% in 2021 (calculated using data from Docket Navigator). The recent decision in Hunting Titan, Inc., v. DynaEnergetics Europe GmbH thus presents the somewhat rare case in which an amendment was granted by the PTAB and affirmed on appeal. That said, the Federal Circuit’s narrow holding does not indicate an easier future for patent owners’ motions to amend; indeed, the opposite may be true.

Patent Filings Roundup: Fintiv Denial in Light of NPE Suit Against Healthcare Co.; More Institutions in Troubled, Funded ParkerVision Campaign; Universal Studios Sued by German Ride Company

Patent filings were average this week, with 21 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions and 77 district court patent complaints filed (and 67 terminated). In the district courts, Joao, Cedar Lane, and DynaIP campaigns added a fair number of defendants, some interesting competitor-competitor cases cropped up, and Wepay Global Payments LLC continued its single-design-patent campaign, adding Wells Fargo. This week also saw a few discretionary denials, as detailed below.

Actions of USPTO Officials Performing the Director’s Functions and Duties During Director Vacancy are Void

Under the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause, “Officers of the United States” generally are required to be nominated by the President “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.”  This rule applies equally to the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), who has an important executive role with political accountability and therefore, by statute, must be Presidentially-Appointed and Senate-Confirmed (PAS). The Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (VRA) provides that the President (and only the President) may direct an “acting” official to temporarily perform the functions and duties of the vacant PAS office. The VRA states that its mechanisms are “exclusive” of all other mechanisms for temporarily filling a vacant PAS office. On several occasions since 2013, including most recently with Commissioner Andrew Hirshfeld, the USPTO has adopted a modality for filling a vacancy in the office of the Director, not with an Acting Director as the VRA requires, but with a non-PAS official “designated” to “perform the functions and duties” of the Director.

Jump Rope Systems Asks CAFC for Initial En Banc Rehearing Challenging Collateral Estoppel Ruling in XY v. Trans Ova Genetics

On April 19, exercise equipment developer Jump Rope Systems filed a petition  with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) seeking an initial hearing en banc to challenge a consent judgment  entered in a patent infringement case filed in the Southern District of Ohio. Jump Rope Systems is asking the full Federal Circuit to overturn its own decision in XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. (2018), arguing that preclusive effect cannot be given to invalidity determinations issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) because XY conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court rulings on collateral estoppel doctrine.

Terminating an IPR: File Your Settlement Agreement Without Concern—At Least For Now

Once an inter partes review (IPR) has been instituted at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), it will generally proceed to final written decision, unless the parties settle their dispute and agree to terminate the IPR. As a prerequisite to termination, the PTAB requires the parties to file their settlement agreement, as well as any collateral agreements, with the PTAB before an IPR will be terminated. Interestingly, 35 U.S.C. § 317(b) also provides that filed settlement agreements “shall be made available only to Federal government agencies on written request, or to any person on a showing of good cause.” This language has, understandably, caused some concern for parties about filing their settlement agreements with the PTAB. As a general matter, settlement agreements are highly confidential and could be harmful to either or both parties to the IPR if disclosed. Yet the language of Section 317(b) makes it at least facially possible for anyone to request access to these agreements without defining the circumstances under which the agreements could be disclosed.