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Posts Tagged: "time bar"

Supreme Court: PTAB Institution Decisions Cannot Be Appealed, Even on the Basis of Time-Bar Challenges

In an opinion authored by Justice Ginsburg, the Supreme Court ruled today that Section 314 (d) of the U.S. Patent Act, which bars judicial review of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions to institute inter partes review (IPR), should preclude appeals of PTAB institution decisions, even where the appeal is based on Section 315(b)’s one-year time-bar for institution. “Congress designed inter partes review to weed out bad patent claims efficiently,” wrote the Court in today’s decision. “Allowing §315(b) appeals, however, would unwind agency proceedings determining patentability and leave bad patents enforceable.” Despite Click-to-Call’s argument that the bar on appeals under Section 314(d) is limited to the agency’s threshold determination under §314(a) of the question whether the petitioner has a reasonable likelihood of prevailing, the Court explained that Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee “is fatal to that interpretation.”

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.

CAFC Upholds PTAB Decision on Time-Bar and Obviousness of Gaming Patent Claims

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reviewed an appeal of the PTAB’s final decision that Game and Technology Co. Ltd.’s (GAT) Patent No. 7,682,243 (the ‘243 patent) was obvious over the prior art, and that inter partes review (IPR) was not barred under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). The CAFC held that the PTAB properly asserted that claims 1-7 of patent ‘243 were obvious in light of the prior art and that an IPR was not barred because the petitioner, Wargaming Group Limited (Wargaming), was not properly served with a complaint alleging infringement of the [‘243] patent over a year before it filed its petition for an IPR.

Federal Circuit Finds District Court Applied Overly Restrictive Interpretation of the Relation Back Doctrine

Recently, the Federal Circuit reversed, vacated and remanded a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado that granted Mushkin, Inc.’s (“Mushkin’s”) motion to dismiss Anza Tech.’s (“Anza”) complaint seeking damages for alleged patent infringement occurring between March 2011 and April 2012 because the claim for damages was time-barred by the six-year statute of limitations in the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. § 286. See Anza Tech., Inc. v. Mushkin, Inc., No. 2019-1045, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 24432 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2019) (Before Prost, Chief Judge, Newman and Bryson, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Bryson, Circuit Judge). In its determination of whether newly alleged claims, based on separate patents, relate back to the date of the original complaint, the Federal Circuit considered: (1) the overlap of parties, (2) the overlap in the accused products, (3) the underlying science and technology, (4) time periods, and (5) any additional factors that might suggest a commonality or lack of commonality between the two sets of claims.

USPTO Leadership Sides With Patent Owner, Ruling Even Deficient Complaints Trigger Time-Bar

On August 23, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) issued a decision granting patent owner 360Heros’ request for rehearing of an earlier PTAB decision to institute an inter partes review (IPR) requested by GoPro and also denied institution of that IPR under the one-year time-bar codified in 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). The PTAB agreed with 360Heros that the one-year time-bar began tolling from the filing date of a counterclaim alleging patent infringement that was dismissed by the district court for lack of standing. The POP panel included U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu, Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld and PTAB Chief Administrative Patent Judge Scott Boalick. The 360Heros decision may offer inventors an escape route from the PTAB death squad. For the first time since the America Invents Act became law, the shoe could be on the other foot.

USPTO Precedential Opinion Panel Delivers Lukewarm Attempt to Streamline PTAB Policy

In September 2018, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the substantial revision of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the paneling of matters before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) (SOP1) and precedential and informative decisions (SOP2), based upon feedback the Office received from stakeholders, courts, legislators, and six years of experience with America Invents Act (AIA) trial proceedings. Now, the USPTO’s Precedential Opinion Panel (POP)—which includes USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld, and Acting Chief Administrative Patent Judge Scott Boalick—has issued its first ever decision, holding that a petitioner may be joined to a proceeding in which it is already a party; that the Board has discretion to allow joinder of new issues in an existing proceeding; and that the existence of a time bar under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) is one of several factors to consider when exercising this discretion. Despite that guidance, the POP emphasized that such discretion should be used only in limited circumstances, “namely, where fairness requires it and to avoid undue prejudice to a party.” Because the instant request for joinder was filed as a result of Petitioner’s errors, the Board dismissed the IPR petition, noting that “there are no fairness or undue prejudice concerns implicated, and the Petition is otherwise time-barred under § 315(b).”

Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Copyright Infringement Claims as Time-Barred and Based on Non-Credible Testimony

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently issued a summary order in Latin American Music Company v. Spanish Broadcasting System affirming a lower court’s judgment denying copyright infringement claims brought by music publisher Latin American Music Co. (LAMCO) against radio station owner Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS). The Second Circuit determined that LAMCO’s arguments on appeal were without merit and upheld findings that its infringement claims were either time-barred or unprovable.

Service Starts § 315(b) Time-Bar Even If Complaint Involuntarily Dismissed Without Prejudice

In Bennett Regulator Guards, Inc. v. Atlanta Gas Light Co. the Federal Circuit ruled the time-bar for filing a petition for inter partes review in Section 315(b) begins to run as soon as a complaint for infringement is served in district court, regardless of whether the complaint is involuntarily or voluntarily dismissed or is ultimately successful on the merits. There are no exceptions to the statutory time limit for filing a petition for inter partes review in 35 U.S.C. § 315(b).