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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a second update to its Trial Practice Guide, clarifying a number of logistical matters for practitioners and outlining the PTAB’s expectations and preferences for certain stages of the trial process.Read More
On April 15, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States denied the petition for certiorari filed by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.Read More
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. 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.Read More
On August 16, 2018, the U.S. Federal Circuit addressed when the inter partes review (IPR) time bar clock begins to tick. See Click-to-Call Tech. LP v. Ingenio, Inc., Slip Op. 2015-1242 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2018). The en banc Federal Circuit addressed whether the one year estoppel clock begins for a properly served complaint when the complaint is subsequently dismissed without prejudice. The panel found that the § 315(b) time bar applies. The filing of such a complaint, though later voluntarily dismissed, has previously formed the basis for declaratory judgment jurisdiction where the initial defendant later brings a validity challenge. See TransWeb, LLC v. 3M Innovative Props. Co., 812 F.3d 1295, 1300 (Fed. Cir. 2016).
On Monday, August 13, 2018, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a notice updating the Trial Practice Guide. The update provided revisions to Sections I.G. (Expert Testimony), II.A.3. (Word Count and Page Limits), II.D.2. (Considerations in Instituting a Review), II.I. (Reply to Patent Owner Response and Reply for a Motion to Amend; Sur-Replies), II.K. (Challenging Admissibility; Motions to Exclude; Motions to Strike), II.M. (Oral Hearing), and Appendix A (Sample Scheduling Order). The update further contemplates additional revisions that will be released on a rolling basis when applicable.
On October 4, 2017, the Federal Circuit held en banc that the proper interpretation of 35 U.S.C. 316(d) and (e) requires the Petitioner in an inter partes review (IPR) to prove all propositions of unpatentability, including for amended claims. Aqua Prods., Inc. v. Matal, No. 2015-1177 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 4, 2017). The en banc Court further determined that the PTAB must consider the entirety of the record when assessing the patentability of amended claims under 318(a), not merely the face of a motion to amend.
The Aqua case resulted in five opinions totaling 148 pages, each presenting views on judgment and underlying rationale, ultimately leading to a narrowly tailored holding. In the decision, the Federal Circuit made clear that the burden of persuasion of patentability does not rest with the Patent Owner; instead, it is left to the Petitioner to establish that any proposed amended claims are not patentable.
On June 27, 2017, the U.S. Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (Board) decisions in three interference proceedings between the Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) (Case No. 2015-2011).
Competing inventors at Stanford and CUHK developed methods for diagnosing aneuploidies—conditions characterized by an abnormal number of chromosomes (e.g., Down’s Syndrome and Turner’s Syndrome)—using maternal blood samples. Maternal blood contains very small amounts of fetal DNA, and maternal blood sampling is far less invasive than previous methods of sampling fetal DNA. Competing inventors developed techniques for detecting the fetal DNA in maternal blood.
A Stanford application was filed in 2007 with claims to analyzing certain “target sequences” of fetal DNA. A CUHK application, published in 2009, described a “random sequencing” method. This method uses a massively parallel sequencing (MPS) technique that does not require use of “target sequences.” After the CUHK application published, Stanford cancelled its original claims and replaced them with claims to sampling “randomly selected” DNA fragments using MPS. The 2007 Stanford application had disclosed that “the Illumina [DNA] sequencing platform” could be used to perform MPS.
Both Stanford and CUHK requested interferences before the Board to determine who invented the random sequencing method. CUHK claimed that, in 2011, Stanford saw CUHK’s claims to random MPS, and changed its application to claim that technique. CUHK moved to have Stanford’s claims held unpatentable for lack of written description support for random MPS. The Board found that Stanford’s specification disclosed “targeted” rather than “random” MPS, and would not have indicated to one of ordinary skill in the art that the inventor was in possession of the claimed random MPS method. It held Stanford’s claims unpatentable for lack of written description.
The Federal Circuit, inter alia, vacated the Board’s decision, stating that the Board erred in analyzing written description, and remanded the case. The Circuit first found the Board erred by relying on CUHK’s expert testimony and several publications discussing a DNA sequencing platform that differed from the Illumina platform. The Circuit further stated that the Board erred because “the Board’s task was to determine whether the [Stanford specification’s] written description discloses random MPS,” “not whether the description does not preclude targeted MPS.” Finally, the Circuit stated that the Board failed to compare specific sentences and phrases referencing the sequencing process of the Stanford specification to the Stanford claims, e.g., the specification phrase “using the attachment of randomly fragmented genomic DNA.”
On remand, the Circuit instructed the Board to examine whether a person of ordinary skill in the art would have understood that the Stanford specification disclosed random MPS sequencing, as opposed to whether the specification did not preclude targeted MPS sequencing. Specifically, it instructed the Board to determine whether a person of ordinary skill would have known, as of the Stanford priority date, that the reference to Illumina products meant random MPS sequencing as recited in the claims, by examining pre-filing date factual record evidence.