Archive for the ‘petitions practice’ Category

Board Limits Multiple IPR Challenges in Samsung Electronics v. Rembrandt Wireless Technologies

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

June 22, 2015

Rembrandt Wireless Technologies sued Samsung and Research in Motion for infringement of  U.S. Patent 8,457,228 in June 2013.  The ‘228 patent relates to data communications, and in particular to a data communication system in which a plurality of modems use different types of modulation in a network.

In June of 2014, Samsung filed six IPR petitions to challenge various claims of the ’228 patent.  (IPR2014-00889 to -00893 and -00895.)   Only half of Samsung’s six petitions were instituted for trial, but claim 21 was the only claim of the ’228 patent in the district court litigation that was not instituted for trial in the PTAB.  (Rembrandt also asserted U.S. Patent 8,023,580, which was also the subject of six IPR petitions, and had additional claims not instituted for trial.)

In the original IPR challenge of claim 21 (IPR2014-00892), Samsung unsuccessfully asserted a combination of “admitted prior art” (“APA”) with U.S. Patent 5,706,428 (“Boer”).  Samsung filed another IPR petition in January 2015 with a motion for joinder to IPR2014-00892 proposing new grounds for the unpatentability of claim 21.  (IPR2015-00555.)  These new grounds combined a new reference, U.S. Patent 5,537,398 (“Siwiak”), to the originally asserted prior art.  But on June 19, 2015, the Board again denied institution of trial of claim 21 and without considering Siwiak:

We do not reach the merits of Petitioner’s additional reasoning in the instant Petition as to why Petitioner asserts that the subject matter of claim 21 would have been obvious over the combination of APA, Boer, and Siwiak. Instead, for the reasons discussed below, we exercise our discretion under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) to deny institution of inter partes review in this proceeding.

35 U.S.C. § 325(d) states:

In determining whether to institute or order a proceeding under . . . chapter 31, the Director may take into account whether, and reject the petition or request because, the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office.

To reject the second IPR petition, the Board integrated § 325(d) with 37 C.F.R.  § 42.1(b):  “[37 C.F.R. § 42] shall be construed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of every proceeding.”  The Board explained its denial of the petition:

Petitioner [ ] presents no argument or evidence that Siwiak was not known or available to it at the time of filing IPR ’892. In fact, Petitioner applied Siwiak in proposed grounds of rejection against claim 21 of the ’228 patent in another petition filed the same day as that in the IPR ’892 proceeding. See IPR2014-00889, Paper 2 at 58–60.  On this record, we exercise our discretion and “reject the petition” because “the same or substantially the same prior art” previously was “presented to the Office” in the IPR ’892 proceeding. [cites omitted]

Petitioner is requesting, essentially, a second chance to challenge the claims. We, however, are not persuaded that a second chance would help “secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive resolution of every proceeding.” 37 C.F.R. § 42.1(b). Permitting second chances in cases like this one ties up the Board’s limited resources; we must be mindful not only of this proceeding, but of “every proceeding.”  [cites omitted]

In this proceeding, however, we are not apprised of a reason that merits a second chance. Petitioner simply presents arguments now that it could have made in IPR ’892, had it merely chosen to do so.  In view of the foregoing, and especially in light of the fact that, barring joinder, this petition is time-barred under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b), we exercise our discretion [to deny the petition].

To conserve its limited resources, the Board must be more selective in petitions it will consider.  Petitioners must provide reasons why the Board should consider new grounds proffered in a subsequent petition, including why the new grounds could not have been presented in an earlier-filed petition.

The Settlement Effect of PTAB Proceedings and Recent Patent Office Trial Statistics

Monday, December 29th, 2014

December 29, 2014

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) released statistics for AIA Patent Office trials as of Dec. 18, 2014.  Different commentators have recently reported that the institution rate for these proceedings has dropped to about 60-70 percent, depending on how you calculate it.  Those familiar with PTAB trial practice (IPR, CBM, PGR and derivation proceedings) understand that the trial statistics are moving targets, but they do provide some insight to interesting trends.

Based on the Dec. 18, 2014 data provided by the PTAB, it appears that the rate of denied petitions is approaching the rate of party settlements.  If the denial and settlement data are normalized to the number of filed trials (excluding the filings prior to decision on institution), the statistics show about a 20:20:60 percent relationship between settlements, denied proceedings, and instituted proceedings (ones that do not settle), respectively.  That means for every five petition filings, approximately one proceeding will be denied, one will settle early, and three will complete their trials.

But the filing of a petition is not always required to reach settlement between parties — the threat of a petition can provide all the impetus needed for settlement between parties.  This settlement effect of PTAB proceedings provides another opportunity for parties to attempt to settle their differences prior to the formal filing of an IPR, CBM, PGR or DER petition.  Frequently, the petition will be prepared to posture the matter for final discussion prior to its filing.  Once filed, the petition serves as valuable information for all other stakeholders interested in defeating the Patent Owner and its patent.  So a Patent Owner with some concern about the patentability of its patent has an incentive to settle with the prospective Petitioner before any petition is filed.

Of course, the PTO statistics cannot account for the cases where parties settle without filing a petition (“non-filed settlements”), so if the number of non-filed settlements is significant, then the PTO statistics underestimate the overall efficacy of post-grant proceedings for settlement of disputes between parties.

If you poll attorneys actively filing these petitions about the number of non-filed settlements they have accomplished compared to the number of petitions actually filed, you will get very different anecdotal responses.  Depending on that number, the impact on settlements of disputes in general (both formal proceedings and prior to formal proceedings) can be significant.

The following table shows how the settlement ratios change using different percentages of the number of matters that settle without any petition filing (percentage of non-filing settlements to that of post-filing settlements).  For example, if you estimate that for every 5 filed petitions, about 1 settlement occurs without a filed petition, refer to the 20% entry in the table below to find the aggregate percentage of disputes settled (including both pre-filing and post-filing disputes).  Using this 20% estimate, the aggregate percentage of disputes settled rises to roughly 33%, the percentage of denied cases drops to roughly 15%, and the percentage of matters going through full trial drops to roughly 48%.  This means for every six disputes, roughly two will settle (one with and one without a petition), one will be denied, and three will complete their trials.  Thus, by viewing disputes from a settlement perspective, including settlements obtained without filing a petition, the aggregate denial and institution rates necessarily fall and the efficacy of the challenges from an overall dispute perspective is enhanced, regardless of the win:loss ratio experienced by the parties at trial.

Of course, this is only a crude first approximation of settlement dynamics.  More information is needed to know the magnitude of the settlement effect of patent office trials on party settlements.  That information will be difficult to ascertain due to the confidential nature of such settlements, but each stakeholder can make its own approximation based on its experience.  Regardless, these settlements amplify the efficacy of the PTAB proceedings and their effect can be as significant as the known settlements arising from the PTAB proceedings themselves.

Table 1

SAP’s Cert Petition Denied by Supreme Court in Versata Patent Infringement Suit

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

In earlier posts, I described the $391 million patent infringement judgment awarded to Versata for SAP’s alleged infringement of US Pat. 6,553,350.  I also detailed SAP’s attempts to avoid the judgment by challenging the ‘350 patent in the first covered business method patent review conducted by the Patent Office under the America Invents Act.  (SAP v. Versata, CBM2012-00001)  SAP prevailed in the CBM proceeding in June 2013, but that was well after the district court judgment and about a month after a decision by the Federal Circuit upholding the damages portion of the judgment.  About two weeks before the CBM decision, SAP had filed a request for rehearing and a request for rehearing en banc in an effort to have the Federal Circuit reconsider its decision.

In light of the CBM decision finding the ‘350 patent claims unpatentable, SAP motioned the Federal Circuit to stay the litigation pending a final decision in the CBM proceeding.  The Federal Circuit denied SAP’s the rehearing requests.  On December 12, 2013, SAP petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.  In its petition, SAP argued that the district court judgment action should have been stayed by the Federal Circuit in view of the unpatentability of  Versata’s  patent as determined by the Patent Office in the CBM review.

On Tuesday, January 21, 2014, the Supreme Court denied certiorari of SAP’s petition.  The case will return to the district court for its consideration of the vacation of the injunction by the Federal Circuit.  It remains to be seen how the district court will modify the injunction given the CBM decision and whether Versata will be able to collect its $391 million judgment against SAP in view of the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the matter.

AIA Post-Grant Practice Rapidly Integrates Federal Circuit and Board Decisions

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

AIA post-grant practice has many advantages over other proceedings, but one of the great benefits of AIA post-grant practice that we have not discussed is the speed in which AIA post-grant proceedings adopt recent patent decisions from different sources.  This is really an exciting and challenging feature of AIA post-grant practice that has become even more apparent in recent filings.  One of the reasons that AIA proceedings are so quick to adopt changes in patent law is that the PTAB offers a panel of patent judges who are already versed in patent law, so the Board does not have a large learning curve to process new decisions from the Federal Circuit and laws from Congress.  Another reason is that AIA patent trials are relatively fast-paced proceedings, which by their very nature will apply legal decisions quicker than routine district court practice.  Yet another reason is that many of the changes in practical post-grant practice are being driven by the Board itself, so the Board can quickly and consistently synthesize inputs from other sources and deploy its own procedural and legal changes.  The result is a petitions practice that can adapt quickly to a rapidly changing patent legal landscape.

One example of rapid integration of recent decisions is shown by a recent CBM petition filed on behalf of LinkedIn (CBM2013- 00025) that challenges claims 1-17 of U.S. Patent No. 7,856,430 (the ‘430 Patent) owned by AvMarkets, Inc.  This CBM petition is a convergence of findings from the recent Federal Circuit decision in CLS Bank lnt’l v. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd., 2013 WL 1920941, at *9 (Fed. Cir. May 10, 2013) and the recent CBM petition and trial (SAP v. Versata, CBM2012-00001).  LinkedIn’s petition is notable for both what it includes and what it omits.  For example, the petition includes a single challenge of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 akin to the ultimate patentability challenge in SAP v. Versata and incorporating the recent CLS Bank decision.  For example, pages 4-5 of the LinkedIn petition borrows from the SAP v. Versata CBM:

The Board has concluded that the AlA’s definition of CBM patents should “be broadly interpreted and encompass patents claiming activities that are financial in nature, incidental to a financial activity or complementary to a financial activity.” SAP America, Inc. v. Versata Development Group, Inc., No. CBM2012- 00001, at 21-22 (P.T.A.B. January 9, 2013) (Decision regarding the Institution of Covered Business Method Review), citing 77 Fed. Reg. 157 (August 14, 2012) at 48736. In particular, the Board has held that it does “not interpret the statute as requiring the literal recitation of the terms financial products or services [and that the] term financial is an adjective that simply means relating to monetary matters.” id. at 23. “At its most basic, a financial product is an agreement between two parties stipulating movements of money or other consideration now or in the future,” and encompasses “patents [that] apply to administration of business transactions.” ld., quoting 157 Cong. Rec. S5432 (daily ed. Sept. 8 2011) (statement of Sen. Schumer).

And pages 22-23 of the LinkedIn petition also incorporates findings from CLS Bank:

Moreover, the ‘430 Patent ultimately claims nothing more and nothing less than the abstract idea of generating sales leads by putting product data in a searchable index, adding only the instruction to “apply it” in the broadest field of use imaginable-the Internet. Mayo, 132 S. Ct. at 1294. That does not suffice to make these claims patentable. The idea of cataloguing customer and product data in the field of use of”the Internet” necessarily implies putting them in the formats known to be searchable on the Internet. The claims add nothing that is not already implicit in the abstract idea. Because the steps are “as a practical matter … necessary to every practical use” of the abstract idea of making commercial data searchable on the Web, they are “not truly limiting.” CLS Bank, 2013 WL 1920941 at * 11 , citing Mayo, 132 S. Ct. at 1298 (Lourie, J. concurring); see id. at *28-*29 (Rader, J., concurring) (key inquiry is “whether the claim covers every practical application of [the] abstract idea” but even if not, ” it still will not be limited meaningfully if it . .. only … identiflies] a relevant audience, a category of use, field of use, or technological environment”). The Internet is in fact so broad an area of application, it can barely be said to limit the claim even to a field of use.  CyberSource Corp. v. Retail Decisions, Inc., 620 F. Supp. 2d 1068, 1077 (N.D. Cal. 2009) (“The internet continues to exist despite the addition or subtraction of any particular piece of hardware … [T]he internet is an abstraction …. One can touch a computer or a network cable, but one cannot touch ‘the internet.”‘), aff’d, 654 F.3d 1366.

Also notable is that LinkedIn’s filing omits several things found in other CBM petitions, like a challenge based on prior art, an expert declaration offering evidence, and use of every available page (LinkedIn’s petition is only 27 pages of a possible 80 pages afforded CBM petitions).  With this approach, LinkedIn keeps the cost of challenge to a minimum and reduces estoppel to the single ground asserted should the Board issue a final decision upholding the patent.  Of course, the petition was recently filed on May 29, 2013, so it is too early to tell if it will be successful, but the concept of challenging a patent based on a petition with relatively few pages and no initial expert testimony is the latest adaptation of post-grant practice courtesy of the America Invents Act.

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.

Preissuance Submission Final Rules Published July 17, 2012

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The Patent Office has published its final rules for preissuance submissions under the AIA. A copy of the final rules can be found here (2012-16710). I briefly summarized the rule requirements in a presentation that can be found here (Preissuance Submissions Final Rule July 17 2012).

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Do You Want That Post-Grant Review Super-Sized? – Part III

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

This is the third post in a series of articles on PGR strategies.  In Part I, I made the point that while patents come in all shapes and sizes, post-grant reviews (PGRs) basically come in two sizes.  By statute, the PGR must complete in 1 to 1 ½ years.  Part II addressed some of the issues that the Petitioner faces during a PGR and when the Petitioner may benefit from a 6 month extension.  This post will provide some insight to the Patent Owner’s analysis of what to do if its patent is tested in a PGR.

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Do You Want That Post-Grant Review Super-Sized? – Part I

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Patents come in all shapes and sizes.  There are long ones, short ones, ones that are hard to read, and easy ones.  Some have 1 claim and some have 200 claims.  Some have valid claims, and some not-so-much.  But when it comes to post-grant procedures, the two new procedures only come in two statutory sizes:  regular and super-sized.  (Editor’s note:  you won’t exactly find these titles in the America Invents Act.)

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The Patent Office Wants Your Ideas for Streamlining Reexamination

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

On Monday, April 25, 2011, the Federal Register announced a public meeting to solicit opinions on a number of changes being considered at the U.S. Patent Office to streamline both ex parte reexamination and inter partes reexamination proceedings.  Written comments can also be submitted to the Patent Office by June 29, 2011.

Some of the questions asked are:

1. Should the USPTO proceed with any efforts to streamline the procedures governing ex parte and/or inter partes reexamination proceedings?

2. Should the USPTO place word limits on requests for ex parte and/or inter partes reexamination?

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Petitions Practice for SNQ Findings in Inter Partes Reexaminations

Monday, April 4th, 2011

A prior post emphasized the importance of a well crafted petition in cases where the examiner determines that there is no SNQ in an inter partes reexamination request.  Recall that the BPAI determined it had no jurisdiction to review of a determination that there was no SNQ (for certain claims) in inter partes reexamination control no. 95/001,089 (Belkin International v Optimumpath 95 001089).

An example of a successful petition (3PR petition here) can be found in inter partes reexamination control no. 95/001,461.  On December 20, 2011, the Third Party Requester petitioned the order finding certain proposed SNQs cumulative to issues raised in the ex parte prosecution of the patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,213,762).  The Director of the Central Reexamination Unit granted the petition on January 21, 2011(granted petition).

But note that the Patent Owner filed a “Patent Owner’s Petition to Vacate Director’s Decision” on February 14, 2011.  And the Third Party Requester filed an “Opposition Under 37 CFR 1.182 and 1.183 to Patent Owner’s Petition to Vacate Director’s Decision” on March 11, 2011.  So the Central Reexamination Unit has more petitions on this issue to consider.  Stay tuned!