Federal Circuit confirms that disavowal of claim scope must be “clear and unmistakable”

In Continental Circuits LLC v. Intel Corporation, No. 2018-1076 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 8, 2019), a Federal Circuit panel confirmed that disavowal of claim scope, whether in the patent’s specification or prosecution history, must be “clear and unmistakable.”

The patents at issue in Continental Circuits were directed to “a multilayer electrical device . . . having a tooth structure” and “methods for making the same,” where the “teeth improve[d] the adhesion of the layers to one another.”  Continental Circuits, slip op. at 2-3.  The specification disclosed that “[o]ne technique for forming the teeth is . . . the … Continue Reading

USPTO Proposes to Narrow Claim Interpretation in AIA Patent-Validity Trials

In a move that may make it harder to invalidate—but also potentially easier to limit the scope of—challenged patents, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on May 8 proposed narrowing the interpretation of patent claims during AIA validity trials.

In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the USPTO proposes replacing the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard for unexpired and proposed claims with the Phillips standard that is applied by district courts and the International Trade Commission (ITC).  The Patent Trial and Appeal Board already applies the Phillips standard to expired patent claims, which cannot be amended during AIA trials.… Continue Reading

More SAS: PTAB “May” Revoke Institution in Some Pending Trials

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board today hosted a “Chat with the Chief” webinar to elaborate on the practical effects of its April 26 memo implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu. Of particular note is that the Board seemingly intends to consider revoking some partial institution decisions to retroactively de-institute pending trials.

Many listener questions sought to clarify the impact on prior institution decisions in pending trials. Several addressed the apparent daylight between the memo’s stated intent to consider “all challenges” in instituted trials going forward, and the less-concrete statement that “for pending trials … Continue Reading

PTAB Feeling SASsy: Institutions to Include “All Challenges”

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu will rapidly impact pending and future AIA trials. According to a guidance memo released by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on April 26, 2018, future institution decisions “will institute as to all claims or none” and, when granting institution, “will institute on all challenges raised in the petition.” The wording suggests that “all challenges” refers to all grounds on which claims are challenged, rather than merely all challenged claims.

For pending trials in which only a subset of proposed grounds were originally instituted, panels of the Board may … Continue Reading

All-or-Nothing: Supreme Court Requires Instituted IPRs to Address All Challenged Claims

The United States Supreme Court in SAS Institute struck down the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s practice of instituting inter partes review (IPR) on only a subset of claims challenged in the petition. SAS Institute Inc. v Iancu, 584 U.S. ___, No. 16-969 (2018). Thus, the Board’s final written decisions in IPRs must address the patentability of all challenged claims.

The Board’s claim-by-claim “partial institution” practice was based on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rule stating that the Board “may authorize the review to proceed on all or some of the challenged claims.” 37 CFR … Continue Reading

USPTO Giveth and USPTO Taketh Away: Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of AIA Reviews

In its long-awaited Oil States decision, the United States Supreme Court today held that the Constitution does not preclude the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from reviewing the validity of issued US patents. Oil States Energy Servs., Inc. v Greenes Energy Group, LLC, 584 U.S. ___, No. 16-712 (2018). In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Thomas, the Court rejected the argument that patents are private rights subject to revocation only by Article III courts, holding instead that patents are public rights subject to revocation by the USPTO:

This Court has recognized, and the parties do … Continue Reading

“Informative” Decisions Show How the PTAB Exercises Its Discretion to Deny Petitions Based on Previously-Considered Prior Art and Arguments

In the past several months, the PTAB has designated as “informative” five decisions in which the Board exercised its discretion to deny institution under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d).  That statute provides that the board may reject a petition if “the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office.”  The informative decisions, while not binding on subsequent panels, are meant to provide guidance for parties appearing before the Board.

Below are some important takeaways from these informative decisions:

  • A new reference that is cumulative of a reference considered during prosecution may be treated as
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Federal Circuit clarifies what IPR petition must disclose to provide adequate notice to Patent Owner

In In re NuVasive, Inc., the Federal Circuit clarified what constitutes adequate notice to a Patent Owner of “pertinent portions” of a prior art reference relied upon in an IPR petition. Case No. 2015-1672 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 9, 2016).

On appeal to the Federal Circuit after the Board cancelled all but one of the challenged claims under 35 U.S.C. § 103, the Patent Owner argued that it did not receive adequate notice or opportunity to address certain portions of the Michelson reference upon which the Board largely based its obviousness finding. The Federal Circuit agreed in part.

The … Continue Reading

CAFC requires weighing diligence evidence as a whole and rejects “scouring” for gaps

In Perfect Surgical v. Olympus America, Inc., the Federal Circuit found harmful error in the PTAB’s diligence framework and conclusions, thereby potentially lowering the bar required to establish diligence in PTAB cases. Case No. 2015-2043 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2016).

In the underlying IPR, the Board found a patent owner did not prove the inventor continuously exercised reasonable diligence throughout the critical period of time needed to antedate a prior art reference, due to three unexplained gaps: (1) an almost three-week period of time where the inventor had a draft application before he provided comments back to a … Continue Reading

No due process violation where PTAB “previews” new construction at oral hearing

In Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. Ericsson Inc.,[1] the Federal Circuit considered whether the PTAB’s adoption of a new claim construction in its Final Written Decision constitutes a violation of the parties’ due process. Intellectual Ventures argued that it was denied due process because the construction set forth in the Board’s Final Written Decision was not one that any of the parties offered and was never “previewed” to the parties until oral argument. IV contended that the Board’s decision runs afoul of two recent Federal Circuit decisions—In re Magnum Oil International, Ltd. and SAS Institute, Inc. v. Continue Reading

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