“Without a strong healthy business nothing else really matters–not even IP. A successful IP [plan] is one that follows the business and strategizes to meet its goals,” says Cynthia Raposo, Senior Vice President of Underarmour. The questions that need to be answered that go into formulating an intellectual property strategy–like when the company wants a profit, whether it is interested in attracting investors or academic collaborations or buyers, whether it will become a public or global company, what its niche in the market is, how fast developments in the field are– can’t be fully answered without not only consulting the business people, but being on the exact same page as them.
There are several varieties of a stay. With post grant proceedings we’re talking mostly about discretionary stay. Every district court has inherent right to do this. Judges are generally favorable to granting stays with more being granted than not. “All a judge has to do is get burned once by not granting a stay, going to trial to the end, and then having claims invalidated by the Board and then having to have an appeal,” says John J. Marshall, law professor at Villanova University School of Law, previously Of Counsel at Drinker Biddle. The initial stay before a petition is granted is short. Then after the petition is granted, the district court judges are more likely to grant a stay, because IPR will simplify issues that might be important to the district court judge. That quick timeline is one of the factors that helps you get a stay for concurrent litigation and getting ammunition for use in district court claim construction. In fact, you may find that these factors are so persuasive that if a defendant in district court case files a petition for IPR, and you, as another defendant, can’t join because you are past the one month joinder cutoff, you still may be asked to stay your case until other defendant’s IPR concludes. As of October 2013, contested stay motions pending IPR petitions have a 68.5 percent grant rate and those pending CBM petitions have an 83 percent grant rate, according to a Finnegan infographic based on the published PTO AIA statistics. Those are really good rates. It’s something to consider even in districts like Delaware or East Texas.
A goal of nearly every defendant is to lower the total cost of resolution of any legal issue. As counsel for the defendant, you have to weigh the settlement and licensing costs of a patent dispute against the total defense cost and how long it takes to resolve the dispute with certainty. Today, CBM, IPR, and PGR are the lowest possible cost options. Speed is one of the biggest benefits. The statute requires that a PGC proceeding must be completed in 12 months after institution, and in rare cases this extends to 18 months if the PTAB exercises a good cause exception. APJs are motivated to stay on deadline.
As evidenced by the numbers above, the Board takes as many cases as they reasonably can within the statute. If there’s a good case to be made that a case could be litigated in PTAB, it’s usually accepted. As of last month, the office has instituted 192 trials and denied 32 trials for an overall institution rate of 85.7 percent, according to a statistics report compiled by the PTO. One example of this is Intellectual Venture Management, LLC v. XILINX, Inc., IPR2012-00018, Paper 12 (P.T.A.B. Jan. 24, 2013). Here, XILINX argued that IVM’s petition should be denied, because IVM failed to identify all the real parties in interest as required by 37 C.F.R. § 42.8(b)(1). XILINX pointed to another case in California where IVM was listed with 5 other defendants in a suit that had 63 entities as evidence of IVM’s failure. The Board ruled in IVM’s favor, saying that XINLINX had not given any argument for why the civil local rules of the Northern District of California are analogous to the Board’s rule on real parties in interest or for specifically why any of the 63 entities were real parties of interest.
On the method claims, the test, derived from Prometheus, is whether the claims add enough to a natural principle/law of nature/ natural phenomenon to make them go beyond claiming just the natural principle/law of natural/natural phenomenon alone and to ensure practical application. If they do and if that extra stuff isn’t just routine or conventional steps known in the field, the claims are patent eligible. So, are diagnostic method claims acceptable, or what about personalized medicine claims outlining which drugs work better for specific patient populations? How about a kit with instructions? We can look to the PTO Guidelines and to the case history after Prometheus to give us a some tips on what may not be eligible and how put our best foot forward when preparing biotech process patent applications.
We’ve got a couple cases following CLS Bank that give us clues as to what a computer-related claim should look like post-CLS Bank. In the Ultramercial v. Hulu case, Rader and Lourie are surprisingly on the same side. The patent covers a method relating to a user seeing an advertisement before getting exposure to his desired media content. A point that I’ll circle back to in a minute is that there were 11 steps recited in the method claims in Ultramercial. As expected, Rader writes an opinion saying this stuff goes on in a computer so we find it’s patent eligible– think Diehr/CLS Bank logic. What’s interesting is Lourie writes a concurring opinion, using as precedent his oh-so-decisive plurality opinion in CLS Bank. He found that unlike in CLS Bank where intermediation was too abstract a concept and the claims added nothing inventive, in this case the limitations represent significantly more than the underlying abstract idea of using advertising.
Many of you are privy to the problem of excessive patents. You have all seen the articles about yet another cellphone company infringing on yet another patent, but what you’re left with are questions of what all this activity means and how to use that information to act in your best interest– whether you are the CEO of a company…
In TiVo v. Echostar, Echostar lost on infringement of TiVo’s patented DVR functionality. Judge Folsom issued an injunction and ordered that Echostar stop offering the service and disable all storage to and playback from the hard disk. Unfortunately for Echostar, they did not appeal the wording of the injunction and took no action against the disablement provision. Instead they designed around it by downloading new code to get the set-top box to operate in a different way, in what appeared to be a pretty clean design-around. TiVo filed a contempt motion. Echostar was sanctioned on the grounds that there were not “colorable differences” and their design-around infringed. The dissent argued that not only were there colorable differences but moreover the differences established non-infringement. After two years of back-and-forth and one too many trips to Judge Folsom, the original 70 million that Echostar had to pay for the initial infringement rose to 300 million because of Echostar doing what they thought would get them out of infringing.