Posts in Patents

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Invalidation of Claims Federal Circuit Previously Upheld as Valid

Previously, the ITC instituted an investigation of Instradentdental implants based on a complaint filed by Nobel alleging violations of 19 U.S.C. § 1337 by reason of importation of an implant product infringing the ’977 patent and another patent. The ITC’s Administrative Law Judge issued an Initial Determination finding claims 1–5 and 19 anticipated by the ABT catalog but the ITC later issued a Commission Opinion finding that Instradent failed to show by clear and convincing evidence, the standard applied by the ITC, that the ABT catalog is prior art under § 102(b). A Federal Circuit panel affirmed the ITC’s decision without opinion. Subsequently, Instradent petitioned for IPR of claims 1–7, 9, and 13–20 of the ’977 patent, and Nobel filed a statutory disclaimer of claims 9 and 13–18.

The Inventor Protection Act: Needed Momentum or More Harm than Good?

Recently, the Inventor Protection Act, H.R.6557, was introduced to Congress.  It’s a very well intentioned piece of proposed legislation.  However, it may actually do more harm than good to efforts to strengthen patent rights in the aftermath of the AIA. We need to fix what is wrong with the patent system for everyone, not merely carve out exceptions for a few.  Is H.R.6557 a step in the right direction, gaining momentum for stronger patent property rights for everyone, or will it harm the ability to reach that goal?  We think the answer is clear that H.R. 6557 as written doesn’t do what the patent laws were intended to do.

To invalidate method claims a challenger must show more than the prior art is ‘capable of’ performing the claimed limitations

To invalidate method claims, a challenger must show more than that the prior art is “capable of” performing the claimed limitations—the challenger should also show that “a person of ordinary skill would have been motivated to operate [the prior art device] in a manner that satisfied the [claimed] limitation.”

Federal Circuit Reverses, Finds Opioid Addiction Treatment Patent Nonobvious

The Federal Circuit reversed the District of Delaware’s decision to invalidate Orexo’s opioid treatment patent as obvious because obviousness was not proved by clear and convincing evidence. Specifically, the Court pointed to the absence of a teaching in the prior art that citric acid could serve as a carrier particle for the drug agonist.  The Court also noted that the lower court improperly discounted evidence of objective indicia of nonobviousness.

Federal Circuit Affirms Board: No Interference-in-Fact for CRISPR-Cas9 Technology

The Federal Circuit recently weighed in on an interference proceeding between the University of California (“UC”) and the Broad Institute over the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The Court affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) decision finding there was no interference-in-fact between UC’s patent application and the claims of twelve patents and one application owned by Institute… Considering the evidence of simultaneous invention, along with evidence regarding the state of the art, inventor statements, and application of similar technologies, the Court concluded the Board’s finding was supported by substantial evidence.

Federal Circuit: Presence of a Blocking Patent Can Negate Strong Objective Indicia of Nonobviousness

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a ruling affirming a district court’s finding that certain pharmaceutical patent claims owned by Acorda were invalid due to obviousness over the prior art.  The patents’ claims covered a species of a genus taught by the prior art.  The invalidity determination hinged on (1) whether claiming the same concentrations as the prior art, but for a different indication would be obvious to a person having skill in the art; and (2) whether secondary considerations such as solving a long-felt need demonstrated nonobviousness… Strong objective indicia such as solving a long-felt need may be insufficient to prove nonobviousness when a blocking patent deters others from an improvement.

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB’s Finding of Implicit Disclosure

The Federal Circuit recently issued an opinion affirming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) finding of obviousness of a hot-spot technology patent based on implicit disclosures in a prior art reference. Even though the reference did not expressly disclose the limitation at issue, the Board’s holding that a POSITA would, nonetheless, read the reference as implicitly describing the claimed configuration was supported by substantial evidence.

USPTO Substantially Revises PTAB Standard Operating Procedures

Earlier today the USPTO announced the substantial revision of Standard Operating Procedures (“SOPs”) for the paneling of matters before the PTAB (SOP1) and precedential and informative decisions (SOP2). The revisions deliver upon the repeated promises of USPTO Director Andrei Iancu to increase transparency, predictability, and reliability across the USPTO. These new SOPs update the procedures based upon feedback the Office received from stakeholders, courts, legislators, and six years of experience with AIA trial proceedings. These new SOPs are a major change to how PTAB panels will be comprised, and how precedential opinions will be designated. Given Director Iancu’s speeches, actions and apparent desire to have a more patent owner and innovator friendly Patent Office, these revisions will likely be game changing.

Seeds of demise were sown when SCOTUS removed exclusivity from the patent bargain

With the next Supreme Court term beginning in a few weeks we all need to come to terms with the fact that the U.S. has a compulsory licensing system, which is truly ironic. Trade missions, trade representatives, and governmental organizations travel the world preaching about the importance of a strong intellectual property system and how that starts with strong patent rights that are not subject to the whims and fancy of compulsory licensing. America should practice what it preaches. For some time, the United States hasn’t had a property rights-based patent system. That was merely confirmed in Oil States with the Supreme Court calling patents a government franchise, but the seeds were sown over 12 years ago when the Court decided eBay and removed exclusivity from the patent bargain.

Alice at Age Four: Time to Grow Up

Four years later, the patent landscape demonstrates that Alice has become a train wreck for innovation… Unfortunately, the Federal Circuit failed to rein in this rout of Machiavellian creativity, which it could have done by relying on well-settled procedural process and patent doctrines… This year, the Federal Circuit appears finally to have awakened from its slumber. In two recent opinions, Aatrix v. Green Shades and Berkheimer v. HP, the Federal Circuit embraced long-established procedural rules and patent doctrines… Savvy and creative patent lawyering will prevail. To be successful, patent practitioners must show the PTO, the courts, and Congress the importance of our clients’ innovations and explain why the type of technology should not dictate whether there is enforceability.

World Intellectual Property Indicators 2017: Design Patent Highlights

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published its annual World Intellectual Property Indicators. For the second consecutive year, the number of design applications filed worldwide continued to grow, with an estimated 963,100 applications filed in total globally. The 2016 growth rate was 10.4%, following 2015’s more modest growth rate of 2.3% and 2014’s 10.2% drop in applications. 90% of the growth in 2016 can be attributed to increased filings in China.

Could Have, Should Have, Would Have

It is irresponsible for adults to give children who fail to complete their work credit based on the excuse that the children could have, should have, would have completed their assignments. It is much more inequitable for the U.S Patent Office to deprive inventors of the credit they deserve (in the form of patent allowances) because some conjured up combination of disconnected individuals—who have little, if any, temporal or linguistic ability to communicate with one another—could have, should have, would have eventually produced the claimed invention.

Intellectual Ventures v. T-Mobile: Summary Judgment of Non-Infringement Vacated Due to Incorrect Claim Construction

In claim construction analyses, the plain and ordinary meaning of a claim term will not be narrowed by statements in the prosecution history, unless those statements clearly and explicitly evidence the patentee’s intent to depart from the full scope of the claim. If a dependent claim includes the purportedly disclaimed subject matter and was added at the time of the purportedly disavowing statements, a finding of disavowal is unlikely. Furthermore, a means-plus-function term should clearly and objectively define the function of the limitation; if the function is a subjective term of degree, a finding that the term is indefinite is likely.

IPR Petitioner Bears Burden of Demonstrating Real Parties in Interest are Listed and Petitions are Not Time-Barred

Though the Board did not specify which party bore the burden of demonstrating that all real parties in interest were identified in the petition, it appeared to place that burden on the patent owner. In vacating that decision, the Federal Circuit indicated that the petitioner bears the ultimate burden of persuasion of demonstrating that all real parties in interest are listed in the petition and, thus, the petition is not time-barred under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b); that burden never shifts to the patent owner.

Can I hold on long enough until the madness stops?

If someone told me when starting my career in 1976 that I would discover a process that has been beyond the reach of professionals and experts for over 62 years, I would have laughed.  If the same person also told me that it would be virtually impossible to protect that discovery with a patent in the United States of America, I would have been equally dismayed.  The preceding scenario is exactly what is being experienced by many inventors and me.  I am a common person who caught lightning in a bottle with an invention, only to be frustrated by the patent system in the United States and left wondering can I hold on long enough until the madness stops?