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Posts Tagged: "Smartflash"

Smartflash Petitions Supreme Court to Challenge PTAB under Appointments Clause

In early August, patent owner Smartflash filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a case stemming from covered business method (CBM) review proceedings carried out at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Smartflash is asking the Supreme Court to decide whether PTAB administrative patent judges (APJs) are principal officers of the United States who are subject to the terms of the Appointment Clause, whether CBM review of patents disclosed prior to passage of the America Invents Act (AIA) violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, and whether undisputed evidence that an invention is not unduly preemptive is relevant to answer questions of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. At issue in this petition are a total of 30 CBM reviews petitioned by Apple, Samsung and Google against Smartflash, which were instituted by APJ panels at the PTAB.

Tech Giants Maintain Dominance By Copying Technologies

Although it’s not illegal to earn a profit, unfair business practices in the pursuit of holding a monopoly over an entire industry led to the breakup of Standard Oil, especially the rebates from railroad companies for oil shipments which substantially lowered Standard Oil’s transportation costs relative to its much smaller competitors. Recent academic research has suggested that, while the U.S. government acted appropriately to stop the cartelization of an industry, Standard Oil was engaging in typical capitalist activity in securing better deals which optimized oil shipments. This would seem somewhat less nefarious than an outright copying technologies from smaller competitors in an effort to stave off competition.

Portal Communications Alleges Apple’s Siri Willfully Infringes on Natural Language Processing Patents

Portal Communications filed a suit for patent infringement against Cupertino, CA-based consumer tech giant Apple Inc. At issue in the case, which was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, are a series of patents covering natural language voice query technologies which are allegedly in use by Apple’s Siri digital personal assistant.

Smartflash v. Apple: A poster child of the current ills wrecking the U.S. patent system

despite the media widely lambasting Smartflash as a patent troll, inventor Patrick Racz actually created a company called Internet plc “to develop, manufacture, and commercialize the invention”; Smartflash was created as an entity to hold the intellectual property… One reason why this case might warrant an en banc rehearing includes the fact that the case was decided by a different judicial panel than the panel which heard Smartflash’s arguments in the case. The March 1st decision was handed down by a panel which included Chief Judge Sharon Prost, Judge Pauline Newman and Judge Alan Lourie. An order entered in the case last June, however, lists a Fed. Cir. panel which includes Judge Jimmie Reyna, Judge Richard Taranto and Judge Kara Stoll. It appears to be unclear why a wholesale change of judicial panel was made leading up to the March 1st decision of the Federal Circuit.

If PTAB judges can decide cases involving former defense clients USPTO conflict rules must change

If an APJ making decisions in a case within 18 months of having represented a former client complies with whatever USPTO conflict rules or guidelines apply to PTAB judges, the USPTO conflict rules or guidelines are too lenient and must be changed. PTAB just should not be deciding cases involving post grant petitions filed by former defense clients, and under no circumstances is 18 months long enough to alleviate any concerns of bias or take away the appearance of impropriety… If identification of the real party-in-interest is so important perhaps that transparency should be a two-way street. Perhaps there should be a public Code of Conduct for PTAB judges, and perhaps the USPTO should give stakeholders the opportunity to be heard on whether 2 years is an appropriate length of time to wash away a conflict of interest, or the appearance of impropriety that exists when deciding cases dealing with former clients. My guess is most patent owners would be adamantly opposed to PTAB judges deciding petitions challenging patents brought by their former clients.

Are conflicts of interest at the PTAB leading to preferential decisions for Apple?

The lead APJ serving on the panel of multiple CBM reviews petitioned by Apple, who also wrote the final written decision on at least one CBM review petitioned by Apple and invalidated claims of the ‘772 patent, was Administrative Patent Judge Matt Clements. According to Clements’ LinkedIn profile, he has served as an administrative patent judge at PTAB since March 2013; up until that time he served as a patent attorney at international law firm Ropes & Gray going as far back to September 2006. While at Ropes & Gray, Clements was part of a legal team that represented Apple in patent infringement cases. According to legal party data made available by Law360, Clements served as counsel for Apple up to December 2012 and served on a team with fellow Ropes & Gray lawyer James Batchelder as well as Eric Albritton of the Albritton Law Firm. Both Batchelder and Albritton were counsel of record representing Apple in the Smartflash infringement case where the ‘772 patent was asserted against Apple. Batchelder and Clements both worked at Ropes & Gray’s East Palo Alto offices, where Batchelder served as managing partner, so there’s a distinct likelihood that Clements reported directly to Batchelder in his work with Ropes & Gray. The November 2014 petition by Apple for CBM review of the ‘772 patent was also filed by counsel from Ropes & Gray including Ching-Lee Fukuda, another one of the lawyers representing Apple in the Smartflash action. These types of relationships would have led to the recusal of a federal judge on a manner and yet APJs at the PTAB are not subject to rules that are supposed to prevent this kind of conflict of interest that comes with deciding a matter that includes a former employer.