Posts Tagged: "PTAB"

Functional Claiming of Computer-Implemented Inventions in View of Recent Decisions

The opinion focused on whether adequate structure corresponding to the “coordinating” function is disclosed in the specification. After determining that a special purpose computer is required to perform the function, the court searched for an algorithm for performing the function, but did not find one. The court rejected Williamson’s argument that the distributed learning control module controls communications among the various computer systems and that the “coordinating” function provides a presenter with streaming media selection functionality. The disclosures relied upon by Williamson were thought of by the court as merely functions of the distributed learning control module and opined that the specification does not set forth an algorithm for performing the claimed functions.

Avoiding Invocation of Functional Claim Language in Computer-Implemented Inventions

Functional claim language is increasingly being used by practitioners to capture the metes and bounds of an invention, especially in computer-implemented inventions. Sometimes using functional language in a claim limitation is unavoidable. Functional language does not, in and of itself, render a claim improper. However, as recently experienced in Williamson v. Citrix (en banc) and Robert Bosch, using functional language carries a significant risk of having the claim invalidated as indefinite following a determination that the claim invokes § 112(f) even when the patentee does not intend to have the claim treated under § 112(f).

Amendment to extend CBM defeated in House Judiciary Committee

One of the issues that took up a significant amount of time during the first half of the hearing was the proposed extension of the transitional program covered business method review. The amendment submitted by Congressman Issa (R-CA) sought to extend CBM by pushing back the sunset period until December 31, 2026. The Issa amendment to extend CBM was defeated by a vote of 18-13.

Senate Judiciary Committee to Markup PATENT Act

According to Grassley’s office, the amended PATENT Act will provide important reforms for the way that the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) operates. For instance, the managers amendment would: (1) Require the PTAB to apply the claim construction standard used in federal district court (i.e., the Phillips standard) and further requires the PTAB to consider if claims have previously been construed in district court. (2) Makes explicit that for purposes of PTAB adjudications patents are presumed to be valid, although does so retaining the current law providing that the petitioner has the burden to prove a proposition of unpatentability by a preponderance of the evidence. (3) Makes clear that the Director has discretion not to institute an IPR or PGR if doing so would not serve the interests of justice. (4) Allows patent owners to submit evidence in response to a petition to institute an IPR or PGR, and petitioners to file a reply to respond to new issues. (5) Directs the PTO to modify the institution process so that the same panels do not make institution and merits decisions. (6) Directs the PTO to engage in rulemaking in order to institute a Rule 11-type obligation in IPR and PGR proceedings.

Comprehensive Study of Patent Trial and Appeal Board Decisions

the study determined that 73.5% of the challenged claims did not survive review in IPR proceedings that reached a final decision on the merits. The report also shows that, in final decisions from the PTAB, 37.5% of the claims initially challenged were found unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 102 (anticipation), while 57.6% of the claims were found unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 103 (obviousness). (Some claims were found unpatentable under both grounds.) In a recent study of patent decisions in district court cases, the district courts invalidated claims under Section 102 at a rate of 31.1% and under Section 103 at a rate of 27.8%.

Petition Dismissal is Appropriate for Improper Use of PTAB Resources

Congress created AIA trial proceeding to combat trolls, not create an altogether new class of them. Since the initial filings of Hayman, the STRONG ACT has been introduced in the Senate and includes a provision that would require standing for IPR petitioners (presumably to thwart such filings). However, companies not only employ IPR as an alternative to ongoing litigation but as a due diligence tool to avoid such situations in the first instance. Innovators looking to develop a new product line, or new area of business should have the freedom to clear the landscape of improvidently granted patents via the PTAB without having to wait for a lawsuit, or threat of one. Such knee-jerk legislative fixes will have unintended, and unfortunate consequences.

Patent Abuse or Genius? Is Kyle Bass Abusing the Patent System?

Time and time again throughout the legislative history post grant proceedings were explained as being a faster, low-cost alternative to litigating validity disputes in Federal District Court. That being the case, it would seem extremely odd that any petitioner could bring a post grant challenge to a patent when that petitioner would not have standing to sue to invalidate the patent in Federal District Court. However, the statute does say that a person other than the patent owner can file a petition to institute an inter partes review.

Post Grant Patent Challenges Concern Universities, Pharma

Gulbrandsen’s chief complaint with the U.S. system centers around the fact that it has become enormously easy to challenge issued patents once they have been granted. In fact, organizations in pursuit of acquired technology are leveraging the kill-rate at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to negotiate lower licensing payments. Threats are made that patents will be challenged in Inter Partes review, “so that you amend the license and reduce the fees,” Gulbrandsen explained. “So, immediately you know that devalues the patent and devalues the license agreement that you’ve got.”

USPTO makes changes to AIA post grant proceedings

The immediate modification to the page limits for motions to amend is more in line with reality given the high burdens placed on patent owners. Even when patent owners sought additional pages, the norm was a three to five page extension. So getting ten extra pages is a welcome change. Changing the page limits, alone, is unlikely to impact the calculus underlying the strategic choice to amend. But when the choice is made to amend, patent owners will be better able to meet their burden.

Case Challenging Constitutionality of Inter Partes Review Continues to 4th Circuit

Inter partes review proceedings unconstitutionally assign to an Article I executive branch tribunal matters reserved for Article III Judges that make up the Federal Judiciary. This is in violation of Separation of Powers principles, which is particularly problematic given that we are talking about property rights being stripped from patent owners by administrative law judges in a proceeding designed to be a district court alternative. These administrative tribunals also adjudicate patent validity without a jury, in violation of patentees’ Seventh Amendment rights.

Patent Quality: Is PTAB up to the Challenge?

There has been tremendous growth in the post-grant review system. But that growth is perhaps disproportionately driven by top filers. In both 2013 and 2014 almost a quarter of all IPRs were filed by the top ten petitioners that year. Among those top petitioners are many names you would expect to see including Apple, Samsung, Google, and Microsoft. However, having the system driven by a few major players is not necessarily beneficial, as it can leave behind smaller but still important actors.

On the Road in March 2015

I will be criss-crossing the country again in March 2015, with stops in Washington, DC, Chicago, Michigan, and San Fransisco. What follows is my schedule for the month. If you are in the area come out to say hello.

CAFC Affirms PTAB in First Inter Partes Review Appeal

Writing for the panel majority, Judge Dyk, who was joined by Judge Clevenger, explained that regardless of whether the USPTO properly should have instituted an IPR, the decision of the USPTO could not be reviewed or challenged even after a completed IPR proceeding. Further, the CAFC found that the broadest reasonable interpretation standard is appropriate in IPR. Judge Newman dissented.

Is the Patent Market Poised for Rebound in 2015?

While timing a bottom is never a good investment strategy, recognizing a bottom does present real opportunity. As the 18th century British nobleman Baron Rothschild is famously quoted as saying: “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” This contrarian philosophy is based on the realization that when things hit bottom they can’t get any worse, and can only get better. In the patent/innovation sector there are some recent signs that things may have hit the bottom and be trending up. The Supreme Court did not say software is patent ineligible, and we know from previous decisions that at least some business methods are in fact patent eligible. The Federal Circuit finally found software patent claims patent eligible and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) seems to have no appetite for patent reform.

USPTO Considering Changes to PTAB Rules

At the end of July, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) hosted a press conference to discuss ongoing progress with patent trials which have been or are being conducted under the terms of the America Invents Act (AIA). Scott Boalick, Acting Vice Chief Judge of the PTAB and head of the PTAB’s Trial Section, answered questions from the audience on various aspects of the AIA trials, as well as offer questions for public comments being sought by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in its attempts to determine how and if the AIA patent proceedings can be improved.