Posts Tagged: "SAS Institute v. Iancu"

Facebook v. Windy City Settles It: The CAFC Does Not Care About the PTAB’s Opinions

The Supreme Court in SAS (SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu) was quite clear that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) has to follow the statute when conducting Inter Partes Review (IPR). So, when Facebook sought to enter patent claims into their IPR against Windy City Innovations past the one-year deadline dictated by 35 USC § 315(b), the PTAB had conveniently written themselves an opinion that allowed Facebook to join Facebook to circumvent the deadline. The Board’s Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) used the language in USC § 315(c) and had written that the statutory use of the words “any person” allowed them to join a party to itself. See Proppant Express Invs., LLC v. Oren Techs., LLC, No. IPR2018-00914, Paper 21, at 4–6 (P.T.A.B. Nov. 8, 2018). After the CAFC’s Facebook v. Windy City decision, it’s clear that any PTAB Precedential Opinion Panel statutory interpretation is irrelevant. Practitioners should not accept any conclusions made by the Board about a statute, and petitioners should be more assured that a reasoned argument will prevail.

PTAB Refuses to Apply SAS Institute on Remand as Ordered by Federal Circuit, Federal Circuit Denies Rehearing

The Federal Circuit recently denied a petition by BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (BioDelivery) for a rehearing en banc following a refusal by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to apply the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu, 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018). See BioDelivery Scis. Int’l, Inc. v. Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc., Nos. 2019-1643, 2019-1644, 2019-1645, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1030 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 13, 2020) (Before Prost, Chief Judge, Newman, Lourie, Dyk, Moore, O’Malley, Reyna, Wallach, Taranto, Chen, and Hughes, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Lourie, Circuit Judge) (Dissenting opinion, Newman, Circuit Judge). The petition for rehearing arrived at the Federal Circuit following a decision by the PTAB to disregard a remand order by the Federal Circuit ordering the PTAB to apply the Supreme Court’s holding in SAS Institute and decide all of the claims and grounds challenged in an inter partes review. Rather, the PTAB, on remand, withdrew all of its past actions as to the proceedings at issue and denied the petition in its entirety. BioDelivery then petitioned the Federal Circuit for a rehearing en banc, but the Federal Circuit voted to deny the rehearing, with Circuit Judge Newman offering the only dissenting opinion.

A Look at the Briefs in Thryv v. Click-to-Call Before Supreme Court Oral Arguments

On Monday, December 9, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Thryv, Inc. v. Click-to-Call Technologies, LP. The case, which has gone through multiple name changes since its original appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), will ask the nation’s highest court whether 35 U.S.C. § 314(d), which states that decisions to institute inter partes review (IPR) proceedings shall not be appealable, permits appeals of PTAB institution decisions based upon 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). Section 315(b) states that IPRs won’t be instituted if the patent owner served the petitioner with a complaint for patent infringement more than one year prior to the petition. To summarize the lower court proceedings in this case, the patent-at-issue was first asserted against Keen Inc. by Inforocket.com in 2001 in a case that was voluntarily dismissed. Click-to-Call acquired the patent and asserted it in 2012 against Ingenio, a company formed through a merger of Keen and Inforocket.com. Ingenio filed for an IPR petition and Click-to-Call challenged it based on the Section 315(b) time-bar and the former suit against Ingenio’s predecessor. The appeal reached the Supreme Court, where it was remanded in June 2016 in light of Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee. Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rendered a decision last August where all 12 Federal Circuit judges joined a footnote finding that the Section 315(b) time bar applies even when the earlier infringement action had been voluntarily dismissed without prejudice.

Celgene Corp. v. Peter: Should the Federal Circuit Leave PTAB ‘Patent Takings’ Issue for Another Day?

Nearly four months ago, the Federal Circuit for the first time addressed the applicability of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to IPRs, holding in Celgene Corp v. Peter “that the retroactive application of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings to pre-America Invents Act (AIA) patents is not an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment” Celgene Corp. v. Peter, 931 F.3d 1342, 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2019). Since then, the court has continued to reject similar Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)-related Takings Clause claims on the merits. E.g., Collabo Innovations v. Sony Corp., No. 2018-1311 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 5, 2019). Unsurprisingly, Celgene filed a request for an en banc rehearing, and the government has just this week filed its response. Both Celgene’s en banc petition and the government’s response address the merits of Celgene’s constitutional claim—but as we hinted at in an earlier article analyzing the Celgene decision, there is a serious question whether the Federal Circuit should have even reached the merits of the Takings Clause issue in its panel opinion. In light of Supreme Court Takings Clause precedent, the Federal Circuit may want to either request supplemental briefing to decide whether it should have addressed the constitutional question in the first place, or potentially even revise the panel opinion and leave this issue to be decided in another case.

What’s Next After Arthrex? Reactions Suggest Limited Immediate Effect, But Some Question Whether CAFC Fix Will Hold

The Federal Circuit’s decision in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. generated excitement late last week, when many initially speculated that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) would not be able to continue operations as usual in light of the ruling. However, now that the dust has settled, it seems more likely that the effects of Arthrex will be limited to a small subset of cases. While he could not comment on next steps directly as it is a pending matter, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu suggested during a panel at the John Marshall Law School’s 63rd IP Conference in Chicago on Friday that the Office would not be significantly burdened by the decision. USPTO guidance is likely to be issued soon. Of course, the decision has not done much to bolster the already shaky reputation of the PTAB or its Administrative Patent Judges with some, and there are several scenarios in which the Federal Circuit’s quick fix to avoid shutting down the Board entirely might be challenged. Below are some early reactions to the ruling and predictions about how it may play out. 

Examining the USPTO’s Bid for Adjudicatory Chevron Deference

In response to a request for supplemental briefing from the Federal Circuit in Facebook v. Windy City Innovations, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently argued that its precedential panel opinions interpreting the America Invents Act (AIA) are entitled to Chevron deference, under which (essentially) courts must defer to an agency interpretation of a statute so long as the interpretation is reasonable. To the extent that this bid for Chevron deference is limited to procedural administrative Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) matters such as the one at issue in that case, (an interpretation of 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) which relates to the USPTO Director’s ability to join a party in inter partes review [IPR]), it is arguably defensible. But to the extent that the agency claims (or plans to claim) that its precedential PTAB opinions are owed deference on issues of substantive patent law, it is likely incorrect.

Have Federal Circuit Judges Summarily Affirmed Your Patent Appeal Without Explaining Why? Tell SCOTUS

SPIP Litigation Group, LLC v. Apple, Inc. and Cisco Systems, Inc., No. 19-253., concerns four patents that have been the subject of decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Federal Circuit. More than 25 lawyers have participated in the litigation. The briefs and evidence in the trial court covered more than 2,500 pages. My client, on appeal from an adverse summary judgment, did not contend that the factual record failed to support that result. My client raised only two legal issues when it appealed to the Federal Circuit from the district court’s decision that the patents were not infringed. The appeal briefs covered 202 pages. Three Federal Circuit judges heard oral argument and issued their decision 12 days later. It read: “AFFIRMED. See Fed. Cir. R. 36.” Did the judges understand the technology any better than I do? No one can tell. Did my client deserve some explanation, even if exceedingly concise, from the judges? The petition I have now filed with the Supreme Court claims that the Federal Circuit judges deprived my client of a constitutional right by declaring, “You lose, but we won’t tell you why.”

Next Steps After Celgene: Federal Circuit Ruling on Takings Clause and IPRs Leaves Open Questions

Since the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of inter partes review (IPR) a little more than a year ago in Oil States, several patent owners have brought other constitutional challenges to America Invents Act (AIA) trial proceedings. These cases have been slowly percolating at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In many cases, however, the Federal Circuit has declined to address these constitutional claims on the merits, finding them unnecessary to resolve or insufficiently developed by the parties. But early last week, the Federal Circuit for the first time addressed the applicability of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to IPRs, holding in Celgene Corp. v. Peter, Case No. 18-1167 (Fed. Cir. 2019) “that the retroactive application of IPR proceedings to pre-AIA patents is not an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment.” While the court’s holding may appear on its face to forestall current and future Takings Clause challenges to AIA proceedings, its analysis leaves some questions unanswered, and may even provide a narrow path forward for future takings claims. Furthermore, given the Supreme Court’s predilection for addressing both AIA and Takings Clause issues, the Federal Circuit panel’s decision may not be the last word on this interesting issue.   

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.

Capella Photonics Challenges Federal Circuit Practice of Judgments Without Opinions

Capella Photonics, Inc. has filed a petition for certiorari arguing that the Federal Circuit’s practice of issuing judgments without opinion pursuant to Federal Circuit Rule 36 in appeals from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board violates 35 U.S.C. § 144, which provides that the Federal Circuit “shall issue . . . its mandate and opinion” to the PTO in such appeals. 

PPAC Fee Hearing Discusses Proposed Increases to Late Payments, AIA Trial Fees

Lisa Jorgenson, executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), asked the agency to better justify the increased surcharge for late maintenance fee payments as well as the increases to IPR and PGR trials. Jorgenson noted that much of the additional work required by SAS Institute would take place after the institution decision and thus it might make more sense to divide the fee increase such that the pre-institution fees bear less of the increase than those charged post-institution. Roland McAndrews of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) also sought additional justification for the 525 percent increase to the late payment surcharge for maintenance fees, noting that the desire to encourage on-time payments alone didn’t support that increase… Josh Malone, inventor of Bunch O Balloons, noted that the day’s hearing on fee increases was “based on an unrealistic and aspirational value proposition,” namely that the fees paid for obtaining a patent would actually result in the grant of a patent which was backed by the full faith of the U.S. government.”

Fall Line Asserts Seemingly Invalid Patent Against a Host of Major Companies

On August 15, 2018, Fall Line Patents, LLC asserted U.S. Patent No. 9,454,748 against a number of companies. Specifically, Fall Line alleged in nine separate lawsuits that the mobile applications provided by AMC Entertainment, McDonald’s, Boston Market, Panda Express, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Regal Cinemas, Starbucks, and Zoe’s Kitchen directly infringe at least Claim 1 of the ‘748 patent. All of the lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Texas and request permanent injunctions as well as damages.

The Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit, and the Patent Office Walk Out of an Appellate Review Bar: Changing Standards For Appellate Review of IPR Institution Decisions

This article reviews recent Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decisions addressing the scope of appellate review of institution of inter partes review (IPR) by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The America Invents Act, 35 U.S.C. § 314(d), provides that: “[t]he determination… whether to institute an inter partes review under this section shall be final and nonappealable.” Federal courts initially interpreted Section 314(d) to bar appellate review of institution decisions entirely. However, recent decisions have narrowed Section 314(d) and expanded the scope of appellate review of matters decided by the Board at institution. This article will review decisions interpreting Section 314(d) to date, and explain how recent precedents have created new opportunities for appellate review of the Board’s decisionmaking in IPR proceedings.

Developing a US innovation policy bolstered by strong IP protections

While the goal of developing a US innovation policy bolstered by strong IP protections was the focus of the event it was clear that competition with China, who clearly has set their own innovation agenda on a country-wide level, created a clear sense of urgency in the discussions… Generally speaking, the panelists felt that the actions of the last few years had inflicted serious damage on the reliability of patent rights in the US and created substantial doubt about what those rights were worth economically with the changes. The panel was overwhelmingly in favor of making significant changes to the current environment especially with regard to the proceeding at the PTAB.

The State of the U.S. Patent System: From Oil States to Patent Eligibility

One week ago, the United States Supreme Court issued two decisions pertaining to inter partes review (IPR) challenges at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Meanwhile, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued fresh patent eligibility guidance thanks to the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Berkheimer v. HP. Join Gene Quinn and Todd Dickinson, former USPTO Director and current Senior Partner at Polsinelli, on Thursday, May 3, 2018, at 12pm EST, for a free webinar.