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Posts Tagged: "Saint Regis Mohawk"

Federal Circuit to University of Minnesota: No State Sovereign Immunity For You

The Federal Circuit today ruled that The University of Minnesota (UMN)—an arm of the state of Minnesota—is not protected by state sovereign immunity from a number of inter partes review (IPR) petitions filed against UMN patents. Regents of the University of Minnesota v. LSI Corporation and Avago Technologies U.S. Inc (Fed. Circ., 2018-1559). The Court, in an opinion authored by Judge Dyk, relied heavily on its 2018 decision in Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., 896 F.3d 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2018), which found that “tribal sovereign immunity cannot be asserted in IPRs.” Despite UMN’s arguments to the contrary, the Federal Circuit answered a question left open in its decision in Saint Regis Mohawk by concluding today that “the differences between tribal and state sovereign immunity do not warrant a departure from the reasoning in Saint Regis.”

The Year in Patents: The Top 10 Patent Stories from 2018

Before proceeding it is worth noting two things. First, that my list focuses on specific and identifiable events. Second, there are a number of stories worth mentioning, but which just missed the cut for one reason or another. The two that will probably be most glaring omissions are the Federal Circuit’s decision in Vanda Pharmaceuticals v. Westward Pharmaceuticals, 887 F.3d 1117 (Fed. Cir. 2018), and the final rules implementing the Phillips claim construction standard. With respect to Vanda, while it is a pro-patent decision, the claims found eligible are virtually indistinguishable from those held ineligible in Mayo, so it seems virtually certain a different panel of the Federal Circuit would have ruled differently. Thus, all Vanda did was seem to create uncertainty, which may be good for settlements, but likely not a repeatable decision. As for the Phillips standard, while it makes perfect sense for the PTAB to be using the same claim construction standard as used in federal district courts, many have questioned whether it will make any real difference in outcomes. Still, it is a big event and would have been 11th on my list. Had a chance to Phillips been accompanied by patent claims being presumed valid and requiring clear and convincing evidence to be declared invalid at the PTAB, that would certainly be worthy of top 10 inclusion. Alas, that would require an amendment to the statute and beyond the powers of Director Iancu. Thus, the banishment of BRI, while important, finds itself on the outside looking just in at this year’s top 10.

Federal Circuit rules tribal sovereign immunity cannot be asserted in IPRs

Federal Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Moore, affirmed the determination of the PTAB, holding that tribal sovereign immunity cannot be asserted in IPRs. the decision of the Federal Circuit is rather seriously flawed. The PTAB is simply not capable of exercising jurisdiction over a patent through in rem jurisdiction. The ruling of the PTAB only implicates the rights of certain persons, and because the patent and all patent claims remains open to challenge by others in the future. That truth means the PTAB acts, at best, quasi in rem, which thanks to Supreme Court jurisprudence should be extremely relevant when determining the applicability of tribal sovereign immunity.

Drug Patents and the High Cost of Healthcare: Case of Over-Advocacy for Under-Patentability

The price-tag for non-innovative drug patents, such as these second-wave Restasis patents, is substantial. Indeed, one cannot help but question Allergan’s true motivations for attempting to evade PTAB scrutiny of these patents by reliance on Tribal Immunity based on its deal with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. The PTAB, unlike the examiner corps, does have the ability to consider rebuttal expert testimony, and is thus not-so handicapped in its capacity to vet drug patents of questionable validity, with aplomb.

Mohawks appeal PTAB denial of Sovereign Immunity defense

The appellants are appealing from a series of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) where the Board made the controversial decision to deny motions to dismiss the IPRs on a sovereign immunity defense raised by the St. Regis tribe. On appeal, St. Regis and Allergan asks the Federal Circuit to determine whether the PTAB erred either in holding that tribal immunity does not apply to IPR proceedings and in deciding that Allergan was the “effective patent owner,” enabling the IPRs to proceed in the St. Regis tribe’s absence even if tribal immunity applied.

Mohawk Tribe wins stay from Federal Circuit in sovereign immunity fight

The Federal Circuit issued an Order staying further proceedings at the PTAB relating to the RESTASIS patents now owned by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The stay will remain in place until at least one day after the oral argument scheduled for June 2018. The Court will consider whether the stay shall remain in effect or be lifted based on the merits of the case.

PACED Act has nothing to do with drug prices, discriminates against Native Americans

The bill has nothing to do with drugs or drug prices, how how much Missourians desire cheaper generics. The PACED Act is discriminatory, has nothing to do with lowering drug prices, and doesn’t change the fact that to date no Indian Tribe has ever asserted sovereign immunity in a patent dispute in federal court… Ironically, if the PTAB and PTAB process were seen as fair and even-handed, there would be no incentive for any company to transfer its patents to sovereign tribes or State universities in order to escape the clutches of PTAB jurisdiction. Simply stated, the problem is IPRs, not Native American Tribes or sovereign immunity.

Mohawk Tribe Ready to Battle over Ex Parte Communications between PTAB Judges

Attorneys for the Mohawk tribe have notified the USPTO that ex parte communications between an APJ assigned to the IPRs and an APJ not assigned to the IPRs cannot possibly fall within the deliberative privilege of (b)(5), as it is commonly referred to in FOIA matters… Shore concluded his e-mail to the USPTO putting the Office on notice of impending litigation, reminding the USPTO of its obligation to retain all information and documents in anticipation of a FOIA lawsuit that would seek to compel release of documents in non-redacted form… In reviewing the March 9, 2018 document release there are several other e-mail communications that raise the specter of improper ex parte communications in violation of the APA, both relating to the Mohawk RESTASIS IPRs, as well as the IPRs where an expanded panel of the PTAB refused to recognize a sovereign immunity defense made by the State of Minnesota.

Law Professor Notes PTAB’s Decision on Sovereign Immunity Goes Well Beyond the Constitution

As Sherkow’s Twitter critique notes, however, this hesitation to extend sovereign immunity to tribes in proceedings at the PTAB without precedent for doing so presumes that such an immunity defense would be denied by default, a presumption Sherkow called “painfully, absolutely wrong.” The abrogation of tribal sovereign immunity can be legislated by Congress, (which, as has been noted, was already attempted by Sen. Claire McCaskill [D-MO]) but without Congressional action specific to this abrogation, the default presumption would be that tribes have sovereign immunity to assert. “Hesitancy extending the immunity where immunity is unclearly presented is one thing,” Sherkow wrote. “But upending the Constitutional scheme on Kiowa’s dicta is another.”

PTAB Denies St. Regis Mohawk Assertion of Sovereign Immunity

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. The Tribe asserted sovereign immunity and requested the IPRs be dismissed. The PTAB denies the request finding an IPR to not be an exercise of power over the Tribe… And therein lies the problem the PTAB faces. The Administrative Patent Judges routinely demonstrate an acute lack of understanding relative to very basic legal matters.

IP and Sovereign Immunity: Why You Can’t Always Sue for IP Infringement

The overlap between sovereign immunity and IP issues is not something that comes up all of the time. However, when it does, the impact of the immunity can be significant. The law for certain matters, such as lawsuits in Federal court, is fairly well resolved. However, its application when new procedures are made available, such as for IPRs which were established in 2012, has provided new challenges and opportunities… So can the Federal or State government be sued for infringement under Federal patent, trademark, or copyright law? The answer often depends on the particular facts and specific legal issues of a dispute. That said, in most cases the answer is Yes for the U.S. Government and No for states and Tribal Nations, unless they have taken a specific action to waive immunity for that matter. A brief summary follows.

If it Looks Like a Kangaroo, Hops Like a Kangaroo…

What’s abundantly clear – and disastrous for both the patent system and the public – is that the PTAB’s Kafkaesque rules for complaining about anything outside of what an expert stated in a submitted declaration, including allegations of judicial misconduct, is undermining the public’s already marginal confidence in the entire IPR process. Even Franz Kafka himself would be bewildered by a process which requires one to seek permission to complain – from the very body about whom a litigant is complaining.

Why did two APJs issue an identical concurring opinion in separate cases?

Notice what APJ Harlow wrote relating to IPR2017-01068 is word for word identical to what APJ Bisk wrote relating to IPR2017-01186. Indeed, the entirety of the concurring opinions are word for word identical. Obviously, the concurring opinions were shared internally in some form or fashion prior to being issued by the PTAB. But why? It seems perfectly reasonable for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to want to know who actually wrote these two concurring opinions. Did APJ Harlow and APJ Bisk cooperate and jointly write a single concurring opinion filed in two separate cases? Why would two APJs not assigned to the same case take it upon themselves to collaborate in writing a single concurring opinion? Are APJs not assigned to a case typically consulted? Did someone else write those opinions for APJ Harlow and APJ Bisk to make sure this particular viewpoint was incorporated into the decisions? How did APJ Harlow and APJ Bisk have access to the concurring opinions each would file?

Allegations of ex parte PTAB Communications raise more questions of due process, APA violations

Apple raised concerns of due process implications of ex parte communications and their impact on its trial. Apple’s motion demonstrates that PTAB does not publish ex parte communications into the administrative record as required by the APA, which is the exact issue Saint Regis requested discovery on and was denied… The PTAB’s decision to largely prevent the Saint Regis tribe from filing any additional papers in the case to which they are a party seems remarkable given the fact that the PTAB has opened up the proceedings of the Saint Regis trials to allow amicus briefings from third parties with an interest in the case. So, it would seem that the PTAB seems more interested in giving the agency’s supporters a say in these cases than the actual patent owner whose property rights are on the line, hardly the result one would anticipate if the PTAB were a court operating with any true sense of justice.

St. Regis Tribe requests oral hearing, seeks discovery on political pressure at PTAB

The St. Regis tribe is seeking discovery on due process concerns posed by the potential of political or third-party pressure asserted to “reach an outcome inconsistent with the binding Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedents.”… The St. Regis tribe is seeking the oral hearing to push for discovery in a total of 18 topics. These topics include the makeup of the panels in the St. Regis proceedings, the date each APJ was added to the panel, how the makeup of the panel was decided, who determined the makeup of the merits panel, when the decision on the panel’s makeup was made as well as the disclosure of all ex parte communications concerning the St. Regis case. St. Regis is also seeking communications made on the sovereign immunity issue between specific APJs, including APJs Jacqueline Harlow and Jennifer Bisk.