Category: Patents

1
In the Weeds: Key Intellectual Property Takeaways for the Cannabis Industry
2
Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision
3
A Win is a Win!
4
Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation
5
IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking
6
Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair
7
New USPTO Requirement: U.S. Licensed Attorney Representation for Foreign Trademark Applications and Registrations
8
New Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill In Singapore
9
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe petition for centiorari denied
10
US: Helpful Guidance From Judge Bryson Regarding Stays Pending IPR

In the Weeds: Key Intellectual Property Takeaways for the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis is a rapidly evolving field with 33 states and the District of Columbia having passed laws broadly legalizing some form of medicinal or recreational use. Of those states, eleven and the District of Columbia have adopted the broadest form of legalization: recreational use. General trends of decriminalization and legalization of cannabis, at the state level, may encourage future legalization at the federal level as well. As with any other high-growth opportunity, business investment in cannabis is on the rise, and intellectual property is a vital concern. Below are five intellectual property takeaways to consider for cannabis-related endeavors.

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Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision

In a Halloween decision, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. et al., an appeal from IPR2017-00275. Without wading into the technical merits of the decision, the three judge panel of Judges Moore, Reyna, and Chen, issued a decision that, at first glance, sent tremors through those who practice before the PTAB in AIA-based post-grant review proceedings: finding the appointment of PTAB judges unconstitutional.

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A Win is a Win!

B.E. Technology LLC v. Facebook, Inc., Appeal No. 18-2356 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 9, 2019) identifies what it means to win in a case.  More particularly, the Federal Circuit explained how to determine whether a party is “the prevailing party.”  B.E. Technology (“B.E.”) brought a patent infringement suit in district court against Facebook and the case was stayed pending inter partes review.  The Patent Trial and Appeal Board ultimately held the claims of the patent in question to be unpatentable, which was confirmed on appeal.

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Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation

Mayo Foundation v. Iancu reads more like an arithmetic problem than a Federal Circuit decision. The reason is the case involves the Patent Term Adjustment Act (PTA) (see 35 U.S.C. § 154(b)). PTA determinations require calculating how many days of delay, from the effective filing date to the Notice of Allowance, are attributable to the applicant and how many to the PTO. Under one PTA scenario, the applicant is entitled to an adjusted term, recovering every day the application is pending beyond three years past the effective filing date for the balance of delay attributable to the PTO. This is called a “B Delay” (§154(b)1)(B)). However, the B Delay is subject to several exclusions. The disputed exclusion in Mayo concerned a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) of the application, which Mayo filed before the PTO declared an interference. 

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IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking

In a notable, albeit not surprising, U.S. Federal Circuit decision today, the panel in Celgene Corp. v. Peter confirmed that an inter partes review finding of unpatentability of a pre-AIA patent is not an unconstitutional taking. (slip op. 2018-1171 (July 30, 2019)).

Noting an opening in the recent Supreme Court decision in Oil States, the Federal Circuit deemed the circumstances exceptional as their basis for review of an issue not before the PTAB in the underlying proceeding. The panel reasoned that the proceeding being “curative” in nature, and the approximately forty year period of time in which PTAB proceedings have existed subjecting granted patents to potential cancellations for that duration weighted against any unconstitutionality.

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Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair

On Tuesday July 23, 2019, the Federal Circuit declined to fashion design-patent-specific doctrines of exhaustion or repair. Automotive Body Parts Ass’n v. Ford Global Techs., LLC, Case No. 2018-1613, slip op. at 2 (Fed. Cir. July 23, 2019).

Instead, the court reemphasized that the same rules apply to utility patents and to design patents unless otherwise provided by law. Id. Also concluding that “aesthetic appeal” is not functional, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in Ford’s favor. Id. The decision is notable for its widening of the gap between trade dress and design patents and for its reaffirmation of the principle that design patents and utility patents should, whenever possible, receive identical treatment under the law.

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New USPTO Requirement: U.S. Licensed Attorney Representation for Foreign Trademark Applications and Registrations

On Tuesday July 2, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued new Rules and Regulations under Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 2, 7, and 11. They take effect on Saturday August 3, 2019.

The impact of the rule, as implemented, is a new requirement for a licensed U.S. attorney to serve as counsel for applicants, registrants, or parties to a trademark proceeding whose domicile is not located within the United States (i.e. foreign applicants, registrants, or parties). Previously, a substantial number of such trademark applications had been filed without a U.S. attorney by applicants domiciled in other jurisdictions.

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New Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill In Singapore

On 8 July 2019, the Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill (Bill) was tabled in Parliament, after a public consultation on the draft Bill that was conducted in March 2019 by the Singapore Ministry of Law.

The Bill aims to ensure that the Singapore Intellectual Property (IP) regime continues to support innovative activities in Singapore and positions Singapore as a choice of venue for international IP dispute resolution.

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US: Helpful Guidance From Judge Bryson Regarding Stays Pending IPR

Judge Bryson of the Federal Circuit, sitting by designation in the Eastern District of Texas, issued one of the clearest articulations to date in favor of granting a stay pending inter partes review.[1] Notably, in this case, claim construction had ended, discovery was nearly complete, and trial was set to begin in three months. The defendant, Samsung, had recently joined an instituted IPR covering six of the eleven asserted claims and moved to stay the district court proceeding.

Judge Bryson clearly articulated the three factors that district courts consider when analyzing whether or not to grant a stay:
1) whether the stay will unduly prejudice the non-moving party;
2) whether the proceedings had reached an advance stage, including the stage of discovery and whether a trial date is set; and
3) whether the stay will likely result in simplifying the case before the court.

After noting that the congressional intent of post-grant review before the patent office was to be a “quick and cost effective alternative[] to litigation” to provide a “faster, less costly alternative to civil litigation to challenge patents” and to be “an inexpensive substitute for district court litigation that allows key issues to be addressed by experts in the field” he proceeded to walk through the three factors.

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