Posts in USPTO

Iancu Agrees Key USPTO ANPRM Proposals Should be Handled by Congress

Former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Andrei Iancu, who is now a partner with Irell & Manella, told attendees of an Orrin G. Hatch Foundation webinar today that many of the proposals in the USPTO’s recent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) practices should be legislated by Congress. Particularly on issues that were statutorily prescribed, such as the standard patents are reviewed under at the PTAB versus the courts, the timing for filing petitions, and who can bring an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding, Iancu said the better route to certainty is through Congress.

Towards a Better Patent System, Part Two: USPTO Fees

In my previous article, I made a modest proposal for improving one aspect of patent examination by requiring applicants to identify support in the specification for new and amended claims. That suggestion was premised on my firm conviction – based on 34 years at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in roles ranging from examiner to Commissioner for Patents – that we must improve the quality of examination if we want the United States to remain on a par with patent offices in other leading jurisdictions such as Europe, Japan and China. I believe that the best, and perhaps only, way to do this is to move toward viewing examination less as an adversarial process and as more of a shared responsibility in which applicants work in partnership with examiners to improve examination. Continuing with that theme, I would suggest that the current fee-adjustment process presents another opportunity for applicants and the Office to work together to improve examination and strengthen our nation’s patent system.

Salesforce Reexams Vacated Because It Was Real-Party-in-Interest in RPX IPR

One of the most intriguing, and frankly long overdue, reforms the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) needs to consider is putting an end to the practice of for-profit entities like Unified Patents and RPX filing petitions challenging a patent. This practice has recently been called into question by the USPTO through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) published in the Federal Register. The ANPRM, among many other things, raises the question whether the Office should discretionarily deny post grant proceedings filed by for-profit, non-competitive entities that in essence seek to shield actual real-parties-in-interest (RPIs) and privies from the statutory estoppel provisions contained within the America Invents Act (AIA). And two recent decisions from the Office of Patent Legal Administration (OPLA) provide even more hope that the USPTO will take a reasonable approach going forward when it comes to RPIs.

Teleflex Catheter Tech Patents Upheld by Split CAFC

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled in a precedential decision today that Medtronic, Inc. failed to show the challenged claims of five patents covering catheter technology unpatentable. The CAFC specifically upheld the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) finding that the primary prior art reference cited by Medtronic did not qualify as prior art under pre-America Invents Act (AIA) first-to-invent provisions. Judge Dyk dissented, arguing that the prior art reference had been shown to qualify as prior art, and thus could support a determination of anticipation or obviousness.

PTAB Sanctions Patent Owner for Abusing IPR Process, Cancels All Claims Challenged by COVID Testing Device Maker

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) yesterday made public a Sanctions Order against a patent owner that resulted in the cancellation of all 183 claims of five patents challenged in separate inter partes review (IPR) proceedings. The PTAB order said that Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics “committed an egregious abuse of the PTAB process” by “selectively and improperly” withholding “material results that were inconsistent with its arguments and the patentability of both original and proposed substitute claims.”

USPTO Seeks Public Comment on Making Motion to Amend Pilot Program Permanent and PTAB’s Sua Sponte Authority

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today published a request for comments (RFC) in the Federal Register seeking public input on the pilot program for motion to amend (MTA) practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The Office is considering whether to make the MTA pilot program permanent for patent validity trials under the America Invents Act (AIA) and seeks input on the PTAB’s authority to raise grounds sua sponte during the MTA process. The deadline for public comments in response to this RFC is currently set for July 24, 2023.

This Week in Washington IP: Government Funding of Decarbonization, the State of Black-owned Businesses, and U.S. Tech Diplomacy

This week in Washington IP news, Congress is having a relatively quiet week, but the House will further discuss the impact of Pharmacy Benefit Managers on patients and the pharmaceutical industry. Elsewhere the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is holding an event offering guidance on how women entrepreneurs can seek startup capital.

Patent Office Implements Changes to Requirements for Admissions Criteria for Patent Bar

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a Federal Register Notice today implementing the suggestions it received on expanding the patent bar following its October 18, 2022, request for public input on the topic. The USPTO last year requested public comment on two FRNs that attempted to expand opportunities to practice in front of the agency. The Office said at the time it planned to “expand the admission criteria of our patent bar to encourage broader participation and to keep up with the ever-evolving technology and related teachings that qualify someone to practice before the USPTO.”

USPTO Issues Proposed Rule on Dedicated Design Patent Bar

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to the Federal Register that proposes a separate design patent practitioner bar. Design patent practitioners would only be able to participate in design patent proceedings. The USPTO is seeking public comments on the changes through August 14, 2023. Currently, there is only one patent bar that oversees those who practice in patent matters before the USPTO, including utility, plant, and design patents. Those already registered to practice in patent matters before the USPTO would not be impacted by the change.

Hindsight Bias in Patent Examination: How Language Models Can Help

The patent examination process is subject to the well-known issue of hindsight bias. Issues with hindsight bias come up when a patent examiner, without realizing it, uses their knowledge of the invention itself to reject a claim as being obvious. If left unchecked, these issues can lead to incorrect determinations of obviousness, which prolong prosecution, cause unnecessary ex parte appeals to be filed, and force unfair narrowing of independent claims. However, even when an examiner learns about an invention that seems straightforward, human emotions and subjectivity can make it difficult for that examiner to appreciate that the invention was not obvious based on prior art that existed before the invention.

This Week in Washington IP: Artificial Intelligence on Everyone’s Minds, IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters, and PPAC Hearing on Fee Adjustments

This week in Washington IP news, artificial intelligence is the hot topic of the week with the Senate and House both holding hearings on the subject. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman will testify before the Senate as the young tech entrepreneur becomes the face of the emerging industry. Elsewhere, the USPTO is hosting a day-long expo on innovation in the green energy sector.

MSPB Grants ‘Corrective Action’ to APJ for USPTO Retaliation Following Whistleblower Activity

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) issued a decision on May 5 granting Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Administrative Patent Judge (APJ) Michael Fitzpatrick’s request for corrective action with respect to alleged retaliatory personnel actions against him by senior management officials at the Department of Commerce and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The 131-page decision said that Fitzpatrick filed the appeal to the MSPB in 2021, following punishment for “protected whistleblowing activity.

CAFC Reverses PTAB Decision that Invalidated Sanofi Injector Pen Patent

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision Tuesday that reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision invalidating claims of Sanofi’s U.S. Patent No. RE47,614, which covers a drug delivery device. Mylan Pharmaceuticals petitioned the PTAB for inter partes review (IPR) of all 18 claims in Sanofi’s drug injector pen patent. The company argued the patent was invalid due to obviousness, and the PTAB agreed and invalidated the patent. However, Sanofi appealed to the CAFC and argued that Mylan failed to show that the previous patent was analogous to the ‘614 patent. The appeals court agreed with Sanofi because Mylan only argued that two prior patents were analogous and not the challenged patent.

The ‘Proposed Proposals’: USPTO Reiterates Nothing’s Set in Stone Yet on ANPRM

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal, Vice Chief Administrative Patent Judge (APJ) Michael Tierney of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Lead APJ Amber Hagy presented a webinar Tuesday on the Office’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on PTAB practices, walking attendees through some of the key proposals, and repeatedly reassuring stakeholders that the ANPRM does not contain any proposed rules. The widespread confusion about the ANPRM was highlighted during Vidal’s recent oversight hearing by the House IP Subcommittee.

The U.S. Patent System, the Coase Theorem, and the Era of Efficient Infringement

There is little doubt that the way patent rights are viewed and protected has transformed over the last 15 to 17 years. The patent system our government has enabled over that timeframe incentivizes stealing patent rights rather than engaging in an arm’s length negotiation. This is antithetical to basic, fundamental principles embedded throughout American law, and has caused dispute resolution, licensing and enforcement to emphatically derail.