James Howard Image

James Howard

is the Vice President and Associate General Counsel at The Clearing House Payments Company LLC. Jim is also Associate General Counsel for Askeladden LLC, where he supports all of Askeladden’s Patent Quality Initiative efforts. He is a registered patent attorney with experience in conducting non-infringement analyses, developing invalidity strategies, and handling various other aspects of patent litigation. Before joining The Clearing House, Mr. Howard was in private practice where he represented a variety of defendants, including technology and financial services companies, in patent litigation matters.

Recent Articles by James Howard

Askeladden Brief Asks SCOTUS to Grant U.S. Government’s Petition to Reconsider Whether PTAB APJs Are Principal Officers Under the Appointments Clause

On July 29, Askeladden LLC filed an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Government’s combined petition for a writ of certiorari in U.S. v. Arthrex, Inc., No. 19-1434. In particular, Askeladden asks the Supreme Court to accept the petition and address the threshold question raised by the U.S. Government: whether, for purposes of the Appointments Clause, U.S. Const. art. II, § 2, Cl. 2, administrative patent judges (APJs) of the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are “principal officers” who must be appointed by the President with the Senate’s advice and consent, or “inferior officers” whose appointment Congress has permissibly vested in a department head.

In Support of the Right of Dissatisfied Parties to Appeal Adverse IPR Decisions

On January 11th, Askeladden LLC (Askeladden) filed an amicus brief in support of the Supreme Court accepting certiorari from JTEKT Corp. v. GKN Automotive Ltd., No. 2017-1828 (Fed. Cir. 2018). This case raises the important question of whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit can refuse to hear an appeal by a non-defendant petitioner from an adverse final written decision in an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding on the basis of a lack of a patent-inflicted injury-in-fact, even though Congress has statutorily created the right for “dissatisfied” parties to appeal to the Federal Circuit. 35 U.S.C. § 319.

Ultimately, the panel held that JTEKT failed to establish an actual injury sufficient to confer Article III standing because “the[] declarations [did] not establish that [JTEKT’s] planned product would create a substantial risk of infringing [the] patent or likely lead to charges of infringement[.]” Id. Further, the panel did not agree with JTEKT’s argument that the “creation of estoppel based on [JTEKT’s] participation in the IPR constitute[d] a separate, and independent, injury[.]” Id. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed.

According to the brief: “The issue raised is whether meeting the statutory requirements of Section 319 of Title 35 of the United States Code is an intangible injury-in-fact that is enough to meet the “case or controversy” requirements of Article III of the U.S. Constitution.”

Can the Federal Circuit Refuse an Appeal by a Non-defendant Petitioner in an IPR?

JTEKT Corp. v. GKN Automotive Ltd., No. 2017-1828 (Fed. Cir. 2018) raises the important question of whether the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit can refuse to hear an appeal by a non-defendant petitioner from an adverse final written decision in an inter partes review (“IPR”) proceeding, on the basis of a lack of a patent-inflicted injury-in-fact, when Congress has statutorily created the right for “dissatisfied” parties to appeal to the Federal Circuit.

Rethinking Article III Standing in IPR Appeals at the Federal Circuit

In 2011, as part of the American Invents Act (“AIA”), Congress significantly restructured the way in which previously issued patents could be challenged.   In some cases, existing post-issuance proceedings, like ex parte reexamination and reissue proceedings, were kept intact as such proceedings existed prior to the AIA.  In other cases, existing post-issuance proceedings, like inter partes reexamination, were replaced with new proceedings, such as the inter partes review proceedings (“IPRs”).    In addition, brand new proceedings were created, such as post-grant review proceedings (“PGRs”), covered business method patent review proceedings (“CBMs”), and supplemental examination proceedings.  In each instance, Congress made policy choices as to who could (or could not) bring and/or participate in such proceedings, and who could (or could not) raise challenges to decisions made by the government in such proceedings.