Posts in Government

High Court Asks for SG Views on Apple’s Petition Challenging Federal Circuit Approach to IPR Estoppel

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday invited the U.S. Solicitor General to provide its views on Apple’s petition asking the High Court to clarify the proper application of estoppel in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings. The case stems from a February, 2022, decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in which the court issued a mixed precedential decision that affirmed, vacated, and remanded in part a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. That ruling related to a patent infringement suit filed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) against Broadcom Limited, Broadcom Corporation, and Avago Technologies (collectively “Broadcom) and Apple Inc.

Issa is Not a Fit for IP Subcommittee Chairman

The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee—Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet (IP Subcommittee) writes patent law and is responsible for other patent-related initiatives. A country’s patent laws directly affect its innovation economy. In a free-market economy, patent laws can boost or destroy incentives to invent and commercialize new things. As a result, patent law influences economic and job growth, social mobility, technological advances and national security. The 118th congress has begun. Currently, the Republican Steering Committee is selecting the Chairs for the various committees and filling the ranks with members. The next step is for the Chairs of the various committees to select their subcommittee chairs. In the case of the IP Subcommittee, Jim Jordan is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, so he selects the IP Subcommittee Chair. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) is the most likely candidate to be selected.

ITC Puts Complainants on Notice that Pleading Requirements are Not Mere Suggestions

A recent policy change at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) provides a lesson in how to properly draft a key requirement in a Section 337 complaint. The ITC is a popular forum for companies facing unfair competition from imported goods that infringe intellectual property rights. Companies alleging unfair competition can file a complaint asking the ITC to institute what is called a Section 337 investigation and issue exclusion orders barring entry into the United States of the offending goods. To prevail in a Section 337 investigation, the complainant must show, among other things, it has made investments in the US to exploit its intellectual property—the “domestic industry” requirement.

This Week in Washington IP: USPTO-FDA Listening Session, China’s IP Landscape, Women in Entrepreneurship

This week in Washington IP news, following the federal holiday to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Congress is not in session, but there are still some interesting events to put on your calendar, including the all-day listening session on United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)-U.S. Food & Drug Administration collaboration on Thursday; a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute about the near-term future for financial markets; and a discussion with IP experts at the USPTO about IP protection in China.

With Vaishali Udupa Set to Take the Helm as Commissioner for Patents, USPTO Leadership Now Lacks Prosecution Prowess

January 17 marks the first day in the tenure of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) new Commissioner for Patents, Vaishali Udupa. Udupa, whose appointment was announced in December, comes to the USPTO after serving the last seven years as the head of litigation for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where she was responsible for heading HPE’s intellectual property litigation and formulating case strategies. She replaces Acting Commissioner for Patents Andrew Faile, who served in that role since January 2021 and who will be retiring from the agency after 33 years upon Udupa’s installation as commissioner. Well-known within the patent community as an advocate for diversity and representation issues, Udupa joins the USPTO as a relative outsider. She comes in as the first full Commissioner for Patents since the retirement of Drew Hirshfeld, who served with the agency for two decades before he was first appointed to Commissioner in 2015. Those familiar with recent Patent Office history will recall that Commissioners immediately preceding Hirshfeld included Bob Stoll, Peggy Focarino, John Doll and Nick Godici. Stoll, Focarino, Doll and Godici each served in various capacities at the Office, including in high-level policy and regulatory positions, for more than a generation prior to becoming Commissioner.

Industry Risk and Investment Drives Academic Tech Transfer

AUTM, which represents the academic technology management profession, just released the results of the survey of its members for 2021. Once again, the results are impressive, particularly considering that the U.S. economy was just beginning to emerge from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic…. It’s clear that despite continual attacks on the Bayh-Dole system, which allows academic institutions to own and manage federally funded inventions without Washington micro-management, our system keeps truckin’ right along, year after year, leading the world.

Salesforce’s Abusive Post Grant Tactics Demonstrate USPTO Dysfunction

The issue of who is the real party in interest in an inter partes review (IPR) filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a particularly thorny matter. When IPRs were introduced, patent owners were assured that there would be a meaningful estoppel provision, which would prevent those who lost IPRs from challenging the same patents in later proceedings. There was also a statute of limitations, another thorny matter, that would prevent challengers from filing an IPR more than one year after they were sued. The long and short of it is this—real party in interest law and statute of limitations law, which apply in every other legal setting, are interpreted vastly differently at the PTAB. For example, with the statute of limitations, if you are barred from bringing a challenge and someone else brings a challenge, then suddenly you are able to join the challenge, despite being barred. But wait—there is more. If that first party that was not barred settles and leaves the case and the barred party is the only challenger remaining, well the case must go on. A legal absurdity.

IBM Cites Deliberate Strategy Shift as it Drops to Second Place in IFI Claims Patent Grant List for First Time in 29 Years

This week, patent data analytics firm IFI CLAIMS published its annual report of the top 50 U.S. patent recipients and the global 250 largest patent portfolios for 2022. The list provides a comprehensive snapshot of the patent landscape with insights into growing trends in the industry. One of the most eye-catching details is Samsung taking the first spot for U.S. patent grants in 2022, ending IBM’s 29-year reign at the top. The difference between the two is also surprisingly wide, with a gap of nearly 2,000 patent grants. According to an IFI press release, the number of U.S. patent grants was at its lowest since 2018 despite the number of patent applications reaching a record high. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of patent grants has decreased three years in a row.

Why Voluntary Licensing is Best for Increasing Access to Medicines

When it comes to how to best increase access to medicines in l0w and middle-income countries (LMICs), compulsory licensing gets most of the attention. Academic articles, non-governmental organization (NGO) campaigns, conferences and United Nations (UN)-endorsed technical symposia assert it is the best approach. Certain World Trade Organization (WTO) members are pushing for COVID-19 treatments and diagnostics to be included in the waiver of intellectual property rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of IP Rights (TRIPs waiver), which revolves around compulsory licensing. Brazil has recently amended its IP laws to make compulsory licensing easier. Despite its high political profile, compulsory licensing has rarely been used (mainly by a handful African countries in the mid 2000s to address the HIV pandemic). Even then, IP-respecting treatments available from global procurement bodies have proven cheaper. No country has yet seen the need for a compulsory license for a COVID vaccine.

CAFC Says USPTO Arguments for Rejecting Google Patent Application Lack Support in Record

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a precedential decision today vacated a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding that certain claims of Google, LLC’s U.S. Patent Application No. 14/628,093 were obvious. The CAFC opinion, authored by Chief Judge Moore, said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) arguments on appeal “cannot sustain the Board’s decision below because they do not reflect the reasoning or findings the Board actually invoked.” Google’s patent application has to do with methods for filtering the results of an internet search query such that only age-appropriate results for a user are displayed. At issue were two prior art references: Parthasarathy, which “discloses methods of filtering search results by comparing a “search-query-intent score” to a predetermined safety threshold” and Rose, which is titled “System and Method for Improving the Ranking of Information Retrieval Results for Short Queries.”

USPTO Calls for Input on Draft 2022-2026 Strategic Plan

Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is seeking comments from the public on the draft of the organization’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. According to a press release, the plan sets five goals for the organization: Spur U.S. innovation and global competitiveness; promote IP rights; promote IP protection against new and persistent threats; bring innovation to positive impact; and maximize agency operations.

This Week in Washington IP: U.S.-China Competition, Microelectronic Supply Chains, and Creating a More Inclusive Workplace Culture

This week in Washington IP news, after a hectic week that saw the House take 15 rounds of voting to nominate new Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, both the House and Senate will not be holding any hearings this week. Events to look out for this week include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosting a discussion on how companies can create a more inclusive culture, the Hudson holding a panel discussion on microelectronics in the U.S., and a talk on technological innovation from a former Google CEO hosted by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

PTAB Judge Who Owns Cisco Stock Withdraws from IPR Following Centripetal Claims of Bias

Following a Motion for Recusal and Vacatur filed on December 30 by Centripetal Networks, Inc., a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judge has now withdrawn from an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding in a stated effort to “reduce the number of issues and simplify the briefing.” Centripetal filed the December 30 Motion in an IPR brought against it in November 2021 by Palo Alto Networks, which Cisco Systems, Inc. successfully petitioned to join. The Motion argued that Administrative Patent Judge (APJ) Brian McNamara created at least the appearance of actual bias in failing to provide “notice, divestiture, or any apparent attempt to recuse” himself from proceedings involving Cisco despite owning Cisco stock and being “paid a significant amount of money (apparently a share of the profits) from one of Cisco’s lobbyist law firms,” according to the Motion.

Apple v. Zipit Designated Precedential Following Busy December for USPTO

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) stayed active over the holiday period with several big announcements, and today Director Kathi Vidal continued that trend by designating as precedential the December 21 decision in Apple v. Zipit Wireless. Also in December, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its full report on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), recommending, among other suggestions, that the Office make public any policies and directives to judges that could impact substantive decision-making.

RALIA Is Economic Suicide: A Reply to the Critics

Paul Morinville, Founder of US Inventor, recently published a response to my column criticizing RALIA, a bill in Congress that would abolish the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). I offer a few observations in reply. I argued in “The Made in China Act,” November 16, 2022, that juries are not an effective or reliable check on patent validity and that eliminating contested validity reviews at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would be a disaster for U.S. manufacturing. As if determined to prove my point, the VLSI patent-assertion group recently obtained yet another monster infringement verdict against Intel based on a patent that probably shouldn’t have issued.