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Federal Circuit Finds IPRs Can Circumvent Assignor Estoppel

April 27, 2020 | Blog | By Daniel Weinger, Kara E. Grogan

On Wednesday, the Federal Circuit held that while assignor estoppel is applicable in district court proceedings, petitions for inter partes review continue to not be subject to the equitable remedy.  Assignor estoppel is an equitable doctrine based on the principle of fair dealing that prevents a party who divests a patent from later challenging the validity of that patent.
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SCOTUS holds that PTAB Time-Bar Determinations are Not Reviewable on Appeal

April 22, 2020 | Blog | By Michael Newman, Serge Subach, Rithika Kulathila

On Monday, in Thryv, Inc. v. Click-to-Cal Technologies, the Supreme Court held that § 315(b) time-bar determinations are not subject to judicial review. In this 7-2 decision penned by Justice Ginsburg, with Justices Gorsuch and Sotomayor dissenting, the Court determined that time-bar determinations are unreviewable because they are “closely tied” to the Director’s decision to institute an inter partes review (IPR).
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Informative Whirlpool Decision Reaffirms Importance of Secondary Considerations

April 21, 2020 | Blog | By Brad M Scheller, Courtney Herndon

Recently on April 14, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) designated Ex parte Whirlpool Corp., Appeal 2013-008232 (Oct. 30, 2013) “Informative”.  In Whirlpool, the Board reversed the Examiner’s obviousness rejection of claims 1, 4, 6, and 8 of U.S. Patent No. 6,082,130 (“the ’130 patent”), finding that the Patent Owner, Whirlpool Corporation, established a nexus between its objective evidence of non-obviousness and the claimed invention. 
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Last week, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) designated a January 24, 2020 decision, finding objective indicia of nonobviousness, such as evidence of long-felt need and industry praise, saved a patent owner’s amended claims from invalidation, as precedential.
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The Precedential Opinion Panel (“POP”) of the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) recently rejected a rehearing request from a petitioner where institution was denied because of the likelihood that a district court trial would occur prior to a final written decision. 
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On Thursday, the Federal Circuit ruled that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) must give the parties proper notice if considering a sua sponte theory of unpatentability in relation to a motion to amend.
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On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) designated two inter partes review (“IPR”) decisions as precedential and one as informative. These decisions concern PTAB’s discretion to deny institution of an IPR under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) and 314(a). 
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An Informative PTAB Decision on Patent Eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101

January 30, 2020 | Blog | By Christina Sperry, Justin J. Leisey

The U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) recently designated its decision in Ex Parte HANNUN (Appeal 2018-003323) (“HANNUN”) as being informative regarding the application of the latest 2019 revised guidance on patent-eligible subject matter. 
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Relying on Outside Prior Art in an IPR – Not so fast!

December 10, 2019 | Blog | By Daniel Weinger, Serge Subach

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has recently reminded the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the Board) that it may not rely on evidence and arguments that fall outside the scope of the instituted grounds during Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings. In re IPR Licensing, Inc., No. 2018-1805 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 22, 2019). 
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To amend challenged claims during an Inter Partes Review (IPR), the patent owner must show that the proposed amendment responds to a ground of unpatentability at issue in the IPR trial. 
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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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USPTO Proposes New Rules for Amending Claims During AIA Reviews

October 25, 2019 | Blog | By Daniel Weinger

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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Prior Civil Action Bars IPR - A precedential decision

September 24, 2019 | Blog | By Ken Jenkins

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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Federal Circuit Closes Another AIA Loophole

June 28, 2019 | Blog | By Michael Van Loy, Justin J. Leisey

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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