Archive for the ‘indefiniteness’ Category

Progressive Casualty Litigation Stayed Pending Outcome of Liberty Mutual CBMs

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. sued different insurance companies for patent infringement of 5 of its patents in 2010-2012 in the Northern District of Ohio.  (Cases 1:10CV01370 and 1:11CV00082 against Safeco; Case 1:12CV01068 against State Farm; and Case 1:12CV01070 against Hartford.)  One of the defendants is Safeco Insurance Company, which has Liberty Mutual as its parent.  In 2012 and 2013 Liberty Mutual filed ten covered business method patent review (CBM) petitions (two CBM petitions were filed per patent).  Eight of these ten petitions were instituted for trial and two petitions were denied, but each of the five patents has at least one CBM where trial was instituted by the PTAB.

Liberty Mutual and the remaining defendants moved to stay the litigation based on the CBMs instituted.  Progressive opposed the motion to stay.  The District Court heard oral arguments on April 11, 2013, and granted the motion stay on April 17, 2013.

The court used a four-factor test set forth in the AIA section pertaining to CBMs (AIA § 18(b)(1), P.L. 112-29, 125 Stat. 284, 331):

  • (1) whether a stay, or the denial thereof, will simplify the issues in question and streamline the trial;
  • (2) whether discovery is complete and whether a trial date has been set;
  • (3) whether a stay, or the denial thereof, would unduly prejudice the nonmoving party or present a clear tactical advantage for the moving party; and
  • (4) whether a stay, or the denial thereof, will reduce the burden of litigation on the parties and on the court.

It is interesting that the Liberty Mutual litigation was previously stayed pending the outcome of ex parte reexaminations, yet the Court found the benefits of inter partes covered business method review compelling enough to order another stay pending the outcome of the PTAB trials.  Some of these benefits observed by the Court include:

  • CBM proceedings are inter partes rather than ex parte, which allows Liberty mutual “a better platform to advocate its interests.”
  • CBM proceedings are “presided over by a panel of three administrative judges whom are required to have ‘competent legal knowledge and scientific ability,’ 35 U.S.C. § 6(a), as opposed to a single patent examiner.”
  • To institute CBM review, the petitioner must show the claims are likely invalid, 35 U.S.C. § 324(a), which is more onerous than meeting the “substantial new question of patentability” standard required to initiate ex parte reexaminations.
  • The Court also found the short timeline of the CBM proceedings (to be completed within 18 months of institution of trial), to be attractive and likely to decide issues before the Court.

For further information the order for stay provides the details of the Court’s findings and has a detailed table attached at the last page showing the different CBMs and their status.

SAP v. Versata: First Covered Business Method PTAB Trial Tests New AIA Trial Provisions

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The first ever covered business method patent review stems from a patent litigation between Versata and SAP over two Versata patents relating to pricing products in mulitlevel product and organizational groups.  The district court action began in 2007 when Versata sued SAP for alleged infringement of its U.S. Patent Nos. 6,553,350 and 5,878,400 (Versata Software, Inc v. SAP America, Inc., No. 2:07-cv-00153 (E.D. Tex)).

A first jury trial was held in 2009, and a second jury trial was held in 2011.  In the first trial, the jury found both patents directly infringed and inducement of infringement of one claim of the ‘350 patent.  Shortly after the first trial, the Court granted JMOL of noninfringement of the ‘400 patent.  A second trial was held on the ‘350 patent and a jury found the ‘350 patent infringed, resulting in a $392 million judgment and an injunction dated September 9, 2011 (stayed pending appeal).

SAP filed its petition for covered business method patent review on the first day it was available via the AIA:  September 16, 2012.  The petition included grounds for challenging the ‘350 patent under 35 USC §§ 101, 112, and 102.

About a month later, SAP filed a notice of appeal of the district court decision in the Federal Circuit (filed on October 11, 2011).  Briefing was completed some months later, and oral arguments were held on February 4, 2013.  About a month before the oral arguments (January 9, 2013), the PTAB instituted trial on the challenges under 35 USC §§ 101 and 102, but declined review on the challenges under 35 USC § 112.  So as of January, 2013, the dispute was being pursued both in the Federal Circuit and in the PTAB.

Based on a series of communications between the parties and the PTAB, SAP agreed to drop its challenge under 35 USC § 102 in exchange for an expedited trial on its challenges under 35 USC § 101.  That trial is scheduled for Wednesday April 17, 2013, where both parties will get an hour to present their arguments concerning 35 USC § 101.

Versata took one further action to challenge the covered business method review by suing the PTO in the Eastern District of Virginia on March 13, 2013.  Versata Development Group, Inc. v. Rea, 1:13-cv-00328-GBL-IDD (E.D. VA).  Versata alleges that the ‘350 patent is not a covered business method patent, and therefore the PTO violated its statutory authority by institution of the review proceeding.  Versata also alleges that the PTO has no authority to entertain challenges to the claims of the ‘350 patent under 35 USC § 101, and that the PTO exceeded its statutory authority by institution of the review proceeding on this ground.

So there is a race to final decision between the district court action and the PTAB proceeding, and Versata’s suit of the PTO may drive the final outcome.  Johann von Goethe was quoted as saying “Every second is of infinite value.”  Perhaps that is more true than ever for SAP and Versata.  It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds this week and in the months to come.

Parallel Litigation and PTAB Review Create Complex Interplay of Patentability and Validity

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

A company called CoreLogic Solutions, LLC owns U.S. Patent No. 5,361,201, relating to a process for appraising real estate property.  The ‘201 patent was filed on Oct. 19, 1992 and issued on Nov. 1, 1994.  Absent some kind of patent term extension, the ‘201 patent will expire soon.  The ‘201 patent is the subject of both a litigation and a covered business-method (CBM) patent review with an accused infringer/petitioner Interthinx, Inc.  The litigation is CoreLogic Information Solutions, Inc. v. Fiserv, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 2:10-CV-132-RSP (E.D. Texas).  The CBM patent review is CBM2012-00007.  Claim 1 of the ‘201 patent is as follows:

1. A computer-implemented process for appraising a real estate property, comprising the steps of:

collecting training data;

developing a predictive model from the training data;

storing the predictive model;

obtaining individual property data for the real estate property;

generating a signal indicative of an appraised value for the real estate property responsive to application of the obtained individual property data to the stored predictive model;

developing an error model from the training data;

storing the error model; and

generating a signal indicative of an error range for the appraised value responsive to application of the individual property data to the stored error model.

PACER reveals a jury verdict form just entered in the Texas litigation on September 28, 2012, where Interthinx was found to not have infringed claims 1 and 10 of the ‘201 patent, and that Interthinx failed to show claims 1 or 10 invalid.  This jury decision comes only 9 days after the CBM petition was filed in the USPTO/PTAB.

What will happen next is anyone’s guess.  Interthinx may elect to wait and see if a CBM trial is instituted.  It may settle with CoreLogic to avoid appeal.  Or it may do a little of both.  It may also pursue the CBM in an effort to challenge the patent  and extinguish any possible reversal and remand by the Federal Circuit on appeal of the trial court action by CoreLogic.

If the CBM PTAB trial is pursued, it will be interesting to see how the PTAB regards a prior litigation decision, such as the one in this case, given the differences between administrative review and litigation.  The differences in  interpretive standards and burdens of proof are  summarized in the slide below:

We already learned from cases such as  In re Baxter International (Fed. Cir. 2012), that the PTO can find a patent unpatentable even after the Federal Circuit affirmed a lower court decision that the patent was not invalid.  As stated in Baxter:

“[T]he PTO in reexamination proceedings and the court system in patent infringement actions “take different approaches in determining validity and on the same evidence could quite correctly come to different conclusions.’[citing Swanson, quoting Ethicon]”

But that does not mean that the PTAB trial judges will ignore district court decisions and that courts will ignore PTAB decisions.  It remains to be seen how much one process defers to the other.

Comparative Study of Post Issuance Review Options

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Today I had the pleasure of co-presenting at the Midwest IP Institute on various post-issuance proceedings with Kevin Rhodes, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel and President of 3M Innovative Properties Company.  A PDF of our joint presentation is found here.

The presentation provides a comparison between IPR (inter partes review), PGR (post grant review), and CBM (covered business method) patent review.  It contrasts these proceedings to ex parte reexamination (EPX).  The goal was to present the available options for review of patents now that inter partes reexamination is no longer available.

The presentation further covered administrative trials in the PTAB.  A hypothetical was used to demonstrate the use of litigation, IPR, PGR, CMB, and EPX depending on strength of 35 USC § 101 and § 112 arguments as opposed to 35 USC § 102 and § 103 prior art invalidity arguments.  Different scenarios were used to demonstrate the complexity of the analysis.

My thanks to Kevin Rhodes and 3M for allowing me to post these slides.

More IPR Filings on Day 2

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

If you are monitoring adoption of post-issuance filings you may have noticed that five more IPR filings were filed on the second day of operation of the PTAB trials portal pursuant to the new IPR and CBM patent review options from the America Invents Act.  The list of today’s filings is reproduced below:

4 IPRs were filed by Intellectual Ventures Management, LLC and one by Ariosa Diagnostics.  This brings the total count to 13 pending petition matters (10 IPRs and 3 CBMs) on the petitions docket.

It is interesting to note different styles presented by the petitioners in the various petitions.   Some rely more on declaration evidence than others.  Some include substantial legal background for positions taken and some are more direct and pointed in arguing their positions.

It is also interesting to see the way that claim construction is being postured in these early petition filings.  For example, for matters that are in more advanced stages of litigation petitioners have resorted to admissions by the patent owner and Markman decisions for proposed claim constructions.  In a presentation to our local bar I predicted that PGR, IPR, and CBM would provide a kind of intermediate state of claim interpretation somewhere between BRI and a Phillips-type construction.  I believe that is starting to take shape as evidence from both prosecution and district court is relied upon for claim construction proposals.

It is encouraging to see highly technical arguments being pursued in these early filings.  For example, CBM (and PGR in general) may provide an attractive vehicle to challenge statutory subject matter and indefiniteness before the PTAB, as opposed to making these challenges in district court litigation.   The patent community may well embrace these post-grant proceedings if it sees consistently high quality decisions by the PTAB.