Posts in USPTO

Vidal Clarifies Application of Existing USPTO Professional Conduct Rules to AI

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal has released a guidance memorandum for the Trademark and Patent Trial and Appeal Boards (TTAB and PTAB) on the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) tools before the Boards that largely clarifies the application of existing rules to AI submissions. The announcement is a precursor to a coming Federal Register Notice that will provide additional guidance on the use of AI tools for the public and other USPTO departments. The guidance document suggests that part of its impetus was Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent year-end report, which acknowledged both the benefits and dangers of AI in the context of the legal profession.

HHS Denies Appeal of Xtandi March-In Petition as Comments Close on Proposed Framework

One day before comments closed on the Draft Interagency Guidance Framework for Considering the Exercise of March-In Rights, published by the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and the Department of Commerce last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) denied an appeal of a decision not to march in on the blockbuster prostate cancer drug, Xtandi®.

Top 10 Software Patent Myths and How to Free Yourself from Them

The first software patent was granted in 1968. It’s now been three decades since the “Year of the Algorithm” in 1994, when cases such as In re Allapat, In re Lowry, and In re Beauregard initiated a wave of software patents. Well over half of U.S. patents granted annually are at least “software-related,” and even a cursory search of U.S. patents reveals software patents in fields ranging from encryption to speech recognition to network security. Why, then, do so many people continue to think that software cannot be patented at all? What explains the stark contrast between the long-standing legal reality and the beliefs of otherwise well-informed engineers, high-tech business people, and even some lawyers?

LKQ En Banc Argument Suggests CAFC Could Soften Test for Design Patent Obviousness

An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today heard arguments from LKQ Corporation, the U.S. government and GM Global Technology Operations in a case that could change the test for assessing design patent obviousness. The judges seemed interested in tweaking the existing “Rosen-Durling” test but struggled with getting the parties to clearly articulate a replacement approach that wouldn’t be potentially just as bad. The so-called Rosen-Durling test for design patent obviousness requires that, first, under In re Rosen (C.C.P.A., 1982), courts identify a prior art reference “the design characteristics of which are basically the same as the claimed design.” Next, under Durling v. Spectrum Furniture Co., 101 F.3d 100, 103 (Fed. Cir., 1996)), if such a reference is identified, the court must consider whether it can be modified based on other references to come up with “the same overall visual appearance as the claimed design.”

Patent Filings Roundup: ‘Schedule A’ Filings Continue; Uptick in Discretionary Denials

It was an average week for patent filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and a slightly above-average week in district courts, with 62 district court complaints filed and 21 new PTAB petitions—one petition for Post Grant Review (PGR), and 20 for Inter Partes Review (IPR). The PTAB instituted 13 cases; iInstitution was denied in 12 cases and 15 cases settled. In district courts, 62 new cases were filed and 12 cases were terminated.

Pfizer Alleges Inconsistencies in Moderna’s Statements to FDA and PTAB

In a recent brief to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), Pfizer and BioNTech (Pfizer) told PTAB judges that Moderna’s dismissal of prior art listed in Pfizer’s August 2023 petition for inter partes review (IPR) of Moderna’s patent on mRNA vaccine technology is inconsistent with its declarations to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the drug approval process. According to the brief, when Moderna was seeking approval for its COVID-19 vaccines, the company “candidly represented to the FDA that prior studies for related vaccines…supported an expectation of safety and efficacy. But now, faced with invalidating vaccine prior art…Moderna wrongly casts the same vaccine prior art as irrelevant.” The brief referred to this as a “litigation-driven one-eighty.”

Iancu, Michel and Other PTAB Masters Panelists Float Ways to Make the System Better

Speakers at IPWatchdog’s PTAB Masters 2024 program this week predicted there will be little movement on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking anytime soon, but some pinned their hopes for change at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to the pending Promoting and Respecting Economically Vital American Innovation Leadership (PREVAIL) Act. Both panelists who typically represent petitioners and those who represent patent owners at the PTAB also agreed there are a number of ways the perception of the Board could be improved. These could include changes like allowing oral argument more often, allowing experts to testify in person, and a more meaningful rehearing procedure, for example.

Liquidia Urges SCOTUS to Restore Preclusive Effect to PTAB Final Written Decisions

Last week, biopharmaceutical company Liquidia Technologies filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a Federal Circuit ruling that affirmed induced infringement findings against Liquidia following the patent at issue being invalidated at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In the petition, Liquidia argues that two previous Supreme Court rulings lead to a result contrary to the Federal Circuit’s determination that the invalidation of patent claims at the PTAB do not have preclusive effect on infringement litigation pending an appeal of the PTAB’s decision.

Let’s Get on the Same Page: A Framework for Aligning Private and Government Goals on IP

Both the Biden and Trump Administrations have made it abundantly clear that economic and technology security is now national security. In the latest National Security Strategy, the Biden Administration stated, “Technology is central to today’s geopolitical competition and to the future of our national security, economy, and democracy. U.S. and allied leadership in technology and innovation has long underpinned our economic prosperity and military strength. In the next decade, critical and emerging technologies are poised to retool economies, transform militaries, and reshape the world.”

Examiner Interviews: Don’t Argue

An examiner interview is the best tool available to progress patent prosecution. Examiner interviews provide an avenue to quickly clear up misunderstandings, explore options, and reach resolutions. By the time I left law firm life to work in-house, I was interviewing nearly every Office Action. Over the years, I refined a style that was very effective, so much so that a partner once asked me how I was getting such good results, but at the time, I could not articulate what exactly I was doing or why it worked. In retrospect, I was successful because I argued less and negotiated more.

Patent Filings Roundup: End to the New Year Lull; Torchlight Patent IPRs Instituted

Filings began picking up again this week after a slow start in the new year in both the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and district courts. The PTAB had a busy week with 31 new filings—one Post Grant Review (PGR) and the rest Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs). Nearly half of all new PTAB filings came from just two entities: Apple and Neurent Medical…. The PTAB was also busy issuing 27 institution decisions (21 instituted and 6 not instituted).

AI Research Pilot Launched by NSF with USPTO as Partner

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that it is launching the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot, as directed by President Biden’s Executive Order on AI in October 2023. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is one of 10 government agencies that are partnering with NSF on the pilot. Biden’s October Executive Order (EO) announced a series of new agency directives for managing risks related to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, prioritizing risks related to critical infrastructure, cybersecurity and consumer privacy. The EO in part directed NSF to launch a pilot for NAIRR within 90 days, which it said was “consistent with past recommendations” of a task force on the subject.

Vidal Awards VLSI Attorney Fees for OpenSky Abuse

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal on Monday made public an order from December awarding VLSI Technology LLC $413,264.15 for “time spent addressing OpenSky’s abusive behavior” in a years-long and circuitous case between the two companies. Vidal first issued her precedential Director review ruling in October 2022, holding that inter partes review (IPR) petitioner OpenSky Industries, LLC abused the IPR process in its conduct with patent owner, VLSI Technology LLC, and sanctioning OpenSky by excluding it from the IPR proceedings by relegating it to be a “silent understudy” in the proceedings and “temporarily elevating Intel to the lead petitioner.”

CAFC Says Prohibition Against New Issues After Joinder Doesn’t Apply to Motions to Amend

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in CyWee Group Ltd. v. ZTE (USA), Inc. affirming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) invalidation of CyWee’s 3D pointing device patent claims. In affirming the final written decision, the appellate court found that ZTE’s lack of adversarial nature in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings allowed LG Electronics, a joined party that was otherwise time-barred, to properly oppose CyWee’s motion to amend patent claims.

Patent Applications Published After the Priority Date of a Challenged Patent Are Not ‘Printed Publications’ for IPRs

Section 311(b) of the America Invents Act (AIA) provides that a patent can be challenged in an inter partes review (IPR) “only on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications.” A published U.S. patent application that never issued as a patent can be used as the basis for an IPR challenge because it’s printed and it’s a publication, right? Not so fast.