Posts Tagged: "CBM"

Fundamental incongruities of PTAB operations affect the integrity of the patent system

For more than two centuries, the U.S. Constitution, black letter law and precedent construed a patent as a property right. This is important because it is the nature of property rights that enables investment in early stage startup companies, especially those with cutting edge technologies in highly competitive fields like pharmaceuticals, biotech, smart phones, enterprise software, internet, semiconductors and other technologies critical to our infrastructure, military and much more… The same agency that takes inventor money to grant patents takes infringer money to destroy them. This creates an appearance of double dealing, and inventor belief that the USPTO is breaching the “grand bargain” of the patent system. Inventor confidence is at an all-time low because inventors are lured away from using trade secrecy protection, but then given nothing in return for disclosure. The effect of PTAB on inventors is devastating. Since institution of PTAB, over 50% of inventors simply quit rather than suffer the financial and stressful indignation of post grant invalidation.

Are conflicts of interest at the PTAB leading to preferential decisions for Apple?

The lead APJ serving on the panel of multiple CBM reviews petitioned by Apple, who also wrote the final written decision on at least one CBM review petitioned by Apple and invalidated claims of the ‘772 patent, was Administrative Patent Judge Matt Clements. According to Clements’ LinkedIn profile, he has served as an administrative patent judge at PTAB since March 2013; up until that time he served as a patent attorney at international law firm Ropes & Gray going as far back to September 2006. While at Ropes & Gray, Clements was part of a legal team that represented Apple in patent infringement cases. According to legal party data made available by Law360, Clements served as counsel for Apple up to December 2012 and served on a team with fellow Ropes & Gray lawyer James Batchelder as well as Eric Albritton of the Albritton Law Firm. Both Batchelder and Albritton were counsel of record representing Apple in the Smartflash infringement case where the ‘772 patent was asserted against Apple. Batchelder and Clements both worked at Ropes & Gray’s East Palo Alto offices, where Batchelder served as managing partner, so there’s a distinct likelihood that Clements reported directly to Batchelder in his work with Ropes & Gray. The November 2014 petition by Apple for CBM review of the ‘772 patent was also filed by counsel from Ropes & Gray including Ching-Lee Fukuda, another one of the lawyers representing Apple in the Smartflash action. These types of relationships would have led to the recusal of a federal judge on a manner and yet APJs at the PTAB are not subject to rules that are supposed to prevent this kind of conflict of interest that comes with deciding a matter that includes a former employer.

The Top 3 Reasons the U.S. Patent System in Decline

Concerns over software and biotechnological innovations being patent eligible, the omnipresent threat of patent reform that could make it even more difficult to enforce the patent property right, and no clear path to a philosophical or ideological turning point make for little to celebrate this World IP Day in America… If Congress wants to resurrect the U.S. patent system these three decisions would be overturned. As long as these decisions remain in force the U.S. patent system will continue to suffer and will undoubtedly be looking up in the rankings to the likes of Hungary when the Chamber releases its 2018 world IP rankings.

Other Barks for Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Uber is initiating a patent purchase program and is accepting submissions through May 23, 2017. British musician Ed Sheeran settles a copyright infringement suit that alleged “Photograph” was infringing. The Ninth Circuit deals a blow to websites that allow users to post photographs of celebrities, ruling that summary judgment was inappropriate and that agency theory is applicable under DMCA safe harbor provisions. The Andy Warhol Foundation preemptively files a DJ action against a photographer, the Federal Circuit denies rehearing in Unwired Planet v. Google, the ITC takes judicial notice of the PTAB refusing to institute IPR proceedings, and IBM teams with Teva Pharmaceuticals to apply cognitive tools to drug discovery.

PTAB denied institution of CBM against automotive feature consolidation patent under Unwired Planet standard

In a surprisingly restrained decision, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) released a decision denying institution of a covered business method (CBM) review proceeding on a patent that is tangentially related to financial activity… Ford alleged that its claim was further supported by the ‘080 patent’s description of market regions for which the consolidated models could be constructed. “The configuration process/system claimed in the ‘080 patent is at least ‘incidental to’ or ‘complementary to’ a financial activity, such as the sale of automobiles,” Ford’s petition reads.

Federal Circuit reverses PTAB, says CBM patents must be financial in nature according to the claims

The CBM determination includes patents that are “financial in nature” according to the claims; not patents that are “complementary” or “incidental” to financial activity according to the specification or post-grant assertion of the patent… Further, the Board’s reliance on post-grant activity, that Secure Axcess alleged infringement against financial institutions, was improper. “Those choices do not necessarily define a patent as a CBM patent, nor even necessarily illuminate an understanding of the invention as claimed.”

Other Barks & Bites for Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Another covered business method review is overturned by the Federal Circuit because the Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted a CBM on a patent that was not a CBM patent. China leads the world not only in stealing digital images protected by copyright but also in terms of trademark applications filed. The Catholic Church starts to take action in protecting its own intellectual property. Also, Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary files a lawsuit including patent and trade secret claims against ride sharing giant Uber.

The PTAB is a thoroughly broken tribunal incapable of being fixed

One Administrative Patent Judge — Judge Meredith Petravick — dissented. Petravick said it was inappropriate for the PTAB to terminate the ‘304 patent CBM because the parties were different when compared to the Federal Circuit case. Petravick said that the review should be limited to the record of the ‘304 patent and not consider extraneous, out of record matters such as a Federal Circuit determination that the very same claims are, in fact, patent eligible. Petravick dissented saying that he would find the claims to the graphical user interface just found patent eligible by the Federal Circuit to be patent ineligible.

Michelle Lee’s views on patent quality out of touch with reality facing patent applicants

In the piece, Lee tries her best to assure readers that positive developments have been made at the USPTO in recent years, but at multiple points she seems blind to major issues that have plagued U.S. patent system stakeholders during her tenure… Perhaps the most abrasive thing Lee stated in her editorial was this: “Our stakeholders share my belief, and that of my USPTO colleagues, that there is a cost to society when this agency issues a patent that should not issue…” No, Ms. Lee, a great many stakeholders do NOT share your belief. They don’t share your belief primarily because by making this statement you shine light on a largely fictitious problem while simultaneously ignoring the real problem facing the Office, which is that patent examiners refuse to issue any patents at all on good, high quality innovations that deserve patent protection.

The Transformation of the American Patent System: Adverse Consequences of Court Decisions

Activist Supreme Court decisions in the last decade have been principally responsible for these changes, stimulated by aggressive technology company incumbent lobbying. The combination of these decisions has had a far greater effect on the patent system and the economy than the Court originally intended. The U.S. is now in a compulsory licensing regime in which large technology incumbents that control at least 80% of collective market share employ an “efficient infringement” model of ignoring patents and forcing patent holders to enforce patent rights in the courts.

CAFC finds graphical user interface patent claims eligible, CBM decision still pending

The Federal Circuit has found claims to a graphical user interface (GUI) patent to be patent eligible. See Trading Technologies International, Inc. v. CQG, Inc. The decision of the panel, authored by Judge Newman and joined by Judge O’Malley and Judge Wallach, is noteworthy for several reasons. First, the Court did not believe that their ruling affirming the district court to merit a precedential designation. This would suggest that the panel did not believe the decision would add to the body of precedential law, which would appear to make this an easy case for the panel. Second, the claims that have been found to be patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 in this “easy decision” are currently under review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in a Covered Business Method (CBM) review because the PTAB believed the graphical user interface patent claims are likely patent ineligible.

Lex Machina litigation report shows 22% drop in patent infringement suits for 2016

For the year patent infringement cases dropped by 22 percent from the previous year, from 5,823 cases in 2015 down to 4,520 cases in 2016. 2016 actually saw the lowest number of patent infringement lawsuits filed since 2011, when 3,578 cases were filed. There was no month during 2016 where more than 460 patent suits were filed; both 2014 and 2015 had at least one month where more than 650 patent suits were filed in district court.

A Rollercoaster Year for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in 2016

The high water mark for the PTAB came in June 2016 when the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee, which ruled that the broadest reasonable interpretations (BRI) standard was acceptable, and that IPR institution decisions were not appealable. After that, however, the tide turned decidedly with the Federal Circuit finding the PTAB acted arbitrarily and capriciously, and that they were blatantly using the wrong definition of a covered business method (CBM) patent to institute challenges on patents that were not financial business methods. The year ends with the Federal Circuit considering whether the PTAB’s refusal to allow motions to amend, despite the statute saying they are allowed, is within their discretion. The writing seems to be on the wall and 2016 seems to be ending with the PTAB in a very different place than it was at the start of the year.

The Year in Patents: The Top 10 Patent Stories from 2016

To come up with the list below I’ve reviewed all of our patent articles, and have come up with these top 10 patent stories for 2016. They appear in chronological order as they happened throughout the year. Just missing the top 10 cut were the Supreme Court denying cert. in Sequenom and the USPTO being sued for Director Lee declaring a federal holiday. As interesting as those stories may have been, there was far more consequential patent news in 2016. Also missing the cut, but particularly interesting were the rather egregious and insulting response filed in an Office Action in September, and the embarrassing concurring decision by Judge Mayer in Intellectual Ventures. While the latter two were truly train wreck moments, they were fleeting. Judge Mayer has completely marginalized himself on the Federal Circuit with no one embracing his extreme and inaccurate reading of Alice, and that type of albeit cringe-worthy and unprofessional response to an Office Action happens very rarely.

Curing the PTAB: How 3 Fixes Will Make a Better, Fairer Process

When the America Invents Act (AIA) was being formulated, from about 2005 – 2011, nothing was more subject to change bill-to-bill than the proposed “1st look” and “2nd look” procedures for issued US patents. Should the U.S. have a regular opposition procedure, or should existing inter partes reexam just be tweaked? The AIA final result is the universally dis-liked post grant troika known as PGR, IPR, and CBM… For today I will confine my remarks (and associated fixes) to three truly bad ideas that in practice have played out as particularly egregious. More specifically: (1) the lack of standing required for inter partes review (IPR) challenges; (2) the lack of any real ability to amend claims during a post grant proceeding; and (3) the trivially low threshold (i.e., reasonable likelihood) that initiates an IPR.