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IPRs & Other Post Grant Proceedings

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Judge Gilliam of the Northern District of California recently answered this question and provided helpful guidance on the interplay of IPRs, reexaminations and district court litigation. In IXI Mobile (R&D) Ltd., et al., v. Samsung Elec. Co. Ltd. and IXI Mobile (R&D) Ltd., et al. v. Apple Inc., Judge Gilliam denied plaintiffs’ (“IXI”) motion for leave to amend their infringement contentions and asserted claims because IXI was not diligent in identifying new contentions or new accused products.
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In a decision with potential far-reaching implications, Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., the Federal Circuit held Thursday that appointments of Administrative Patent Judges of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board violated the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
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Earlier this week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) proposed rule changes for amending patents in AIA proceedings.  The proposed rule changes would apply to inter partes review (“IPR”), post-grant review (“PGR”), and covered business method patent review (“CBM”) (collectively, “post-grant trial”) proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) to make explicit that a patent challenger bears the burden of persuasion regarding motions to amend filed during these proceedings.
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In a precedential opinion on October 4, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in OSI Pharmaceuticals v. Apotex, No. 2018-1925, reversed the Board’s Final Written Decision in an inter partes review (“IPR”) finding that claims of United States Patent No. 6,900,221 (the “‘221 patent”) were invalid as obvious.
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On August 29, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) designated as precedential its January 31, 2019 decision in Cisco Systems, Inc. v. Chrimar Systems, Inc.  In Cisco, the PTAB held that 35 U.S.C. § 315(a)(1) bars institution of IPR if the petitioner filed an earlier civil action, even if such action was voluntarily dismissed by the petitioner without prejudice.    
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The PTAB’s Precedential Opinion Panel, colloquially referred to as “the POP,” ruled that the one-year window to file inter partes review (“IPR”) petitions begins once a complaint alleging infringement is served—even if the complaint is defective.
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Last week the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) designated as precedential a decision from 2014, which found that counsel can confer with a deponent at the conclusion of cross examination and prior to redirect.  Through its designation of Focal Therapeutics, Inc. v. Senorx, Inc., IPR2014-00116, Paper 19 (P.T.A.B. July 21, 2014) as precedential, the PTAB has made clear that although counsel may not confer with a witness during the cross-examination portion of a deposition, counsel may confer with a witness after cross-examination has concluded but before the redirect portion of the deposition commences. 
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The Federal Circuit recently ruled that state sovereign immunity does not apply in Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings, closing another America Invents Act (AIA) loophole.  The case, Regents of the University of Minnesota v. LSI Corporation and Avago Technologies U.S. Inc. (Fed. Circ., 2018-1559), included the review of six Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) IPRs where the Regents of the University of Minnesota (UMN) filed motions to dismiss based on state sovereign immunity. 
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This week, the Supreme Court left open the question of Article III standing with regards to appealing a final written decision from the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (“PTAB”) that is favorable to the patent owner. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied two petitions for certiorari that sought to appeal final written decisions (“FWD”) adverse to the petitioner in an inter partes review proceeding, in that the PTAB declines to cancel all claims under review.
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We previously reported here on a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision involving a case in which a patent eligibility rejection was overcome by replacing a “comparing” step with a recitation that the sample is from a particular patient population.  However, because the eligibility rejection was dropped by the examiner before appeal, the PTAB did not revisit the issue. 
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On April 4, 2019, Chief Judge Patti Saris of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts held in Intellectual Ventures I, LLC v. Lenovo Group Ltd. that a final determination of invalidity in inter partes review proceedings (“IPR”) collaterally estops the patent owner from asserting in district court another claim of the same patent that does not “materially alter the question of invalidity.”  The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity as to that claim.
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The general rule is that a patent claim’s preamble does not limit the claim unless the preamble gives life, meaning, and vitality to the claim.  The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Arctic Cat Inc. v. GEP Power Products, Inc. (March 26, 2019) considers the situation where a patentee wants a preamble to be a required claim limitation, unlike the more typical situation where a patentee does not want a claim preamble to be limiting, such as in Pacing Technologies v. Garmin International previously discussed HERE.  The court deciding in Arctic Cat that the preambles at issue were not required claim limitations highlights important considerations for patent application drafting and for crafting post-issuance arguments.
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Yesterday afternoon, the International Trade Commission issued its Final Determination in Certain Mobile Electronic Devices and Radio Frequency and Process Components Thereof, 337-TA-1065. The 1065 Investigation is one of several actions Qualcomm has brought against Apple both here and abroad.
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In its first decision since its inception, the Precedential Opinion Panel (“POP”) for the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”), in Proppant Express Investments, LLC v. Oren Technologies, LLC, IPR2018-00914, held that under 35 U.S.C. § 315(c) the Board has discretion to allow a party, in limited circumstances, to join its own earlier-filed inter partes review (“IPR”) and join new issues, even if the party was otherwise time-barred under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b).  Specifically, the Board may use this discretion only where fairness requires it and to avoid undue prejudice to a party.  The POP nevertheless denied Proppant Express Investments LLC’s (“Petitioner”) motion for joinder as Petitioner’s motion was “a result of Petitioner’s errors,” and therefore did not fall within the limited circumstances it envisioned.
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Viewpoint General
In the February 1, 2019 decision of Mylan Pharms. Inc. v. Research Corp. Techs., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3282, __ F.3d __, 2019 WL 405682, the Federal Circuit affirmed a PTAB final written decision (FWD) holding claims of U.S. Reissue Patent 38,551 not unpatentable.  The Federal Circuit also held that time-barred petitioners who participated in an IPR as a result of joinder have standing to appeal.  In finding such standing, the Federal Circuit analyzed the interplay between 35 U.S.C. §§ 315(b), 315(c), and 319.
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On February 7, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Momenta Pharmaceuticals v. Bristol-Myers Squibb, No. 2017-1694, dismissed Momenta’s appeal of a Final Written Decision in an Inter Partes Review (“IPR”) because Momenta had terminated its potentially infringing drug development program. According to the panel, this left Momenta without a sufficiently concrete interest in the action to satisfy the standing requirements of Article III of the United States Constitution.
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Recently, in ZTE (USA) Inc. v. Fundamental Innovation Int’l LLC, IPR2018-00425, Paper No. 34 (Feb. 6, 2019), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) allowed Petitioner’s motion to retroactively correct its defective IPR petition to identify a previously undisclosed real party in interest and thereby avoid a mandatory statutory bar.   
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Recently in Nuna Baby Essentials, Inc. v. Britax Child Safety, Inc., IPR2018-01683, Paper No. 11 (PTAB Dec. 18, 2018), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) denied Petitioner’s motion to excuse the late filing of exhibits to the Petition, finding that Petitioner failed to establish good cause for such late filing or that consideration of the late-filed exhibits would be in the interests of justice.
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This year the Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the Federal District Courts penned a number of opinions impacting patent law.  Here are some key takeaways from the past year.
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit opinion issued on November 1, 2018 clarifies the standard for a document to qualify as a “printed publication” under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. §102(b) and reversed an earlier Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) decision.1 Specifically, the requirement that a reference be “publicly available” is not as narrow as the PTAB had interpreted. The Court held that “the standard for public accessibility [of an alleged prior art reference] is one of reasonable diligence, to locate the information by interested members of the relevant public.”
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