Posts Tagged ‘Board’

PTAB Relies on the Federal Circuit’s Recent § 101 Decision to Deny CBM Institution

Monday, June 6th, 2016

On May 12, 2016, the Federal Circuit issued a decision on 101 patent eligibility  that overturned a summary judgment finding of § 101 invalidity for software used for databases.  Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 2015-1244, 2016 WL 2756266 (Fed. Cir. May 12, 2016).  The Enfish v. Microsoft decision interpreted the “abstract idea” first prong of patent eligibility under the Mayo/Alice line of cases.  It reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgement based on § 101, finding that the data storage and retrieval system for a computer memory recited by five claims on appeal of U.S. Pat. No. 6,151,604 were patent-eligible.

Two weeks later, in a CBM review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) denied institution on the reviewed claims of U.S. Pat. No. 6,006,227 on § 101, referencing Enfish v. Microsoft.  Apple v. Mirror World Technologies, CBM2016-00019, Paper 12, May 26, 2016.  Mirror World’s ‘227 patent covers a “Document Stream Operating System,” as represented by claim 13:

13. A method which organizes each data unit received by or generated by a computer system, comprising the steps of:

generating a main stream of data units and at least one substream, the main stream for receiving each data unit received by or generated by the computer system, and each substream for containing data units only from the main stream;

receiving data units from other computer systems;

generating data units in the computer system;

selecting a timestamp to identify each data unit;

associating each data unit with at least one chronological indicator having the respective timestamp;

including each data unit according to the timestamp in the respective chronological indicator in at least the main stream; and

maintaining at least the main stream and the substreams as persistent streams.

The Board determined that the ‘227 was a covered business method patent eligible for review under AIA § 18, but that the claims do not recite an abstract idea.  The Board based its decision on a number of reasons, including:

  • Patent Owner demonstrated that the claims recite a solution to a problem that is “necessarily rooted in computer technology,”
  • Patent Owner identified a number of problems solved by the claimed invention that did not exist in the pre-computer world, and
  • The Board was persuaded by Patent Owner’s assertion that the claims cannot be performed entirely by the human mind or with pen or paper, and that certain steps of the claims specifically call for operations that must be performed by a computer.

The Board then relied on this excerpt from Enfish:

We do not read Alice to broadly hold that all improvements in computer-related technology are inherently abstract and, therefore, must be considered at step two. Indeed, some improvements in computer-related technology when appropriately claimed are undoubtedly not abstract, such as a chip architecture, an LED display, and the like. Nor do we think that claims directed to software, as opposed to hardware, are inherently abstract and therefore only properly analyzed at the second step of the Alice analysis. Software can make non-abstract improvements to computer technology just as hardware improvements can, and sometimes the improvements can be accomplished through either route. We thus see no reason to conclude that all claims directed to improvements in computer-related technology, including those directed to software, are abstract and necessarily analyzed at the second step of Alice, nor do we believe that Alice so directs. Therefore, we find it relevant to ask whether the claims are directed to an improvement to computer functionality versus being directed to an abstract idea, even at the first step of the Alice analysis.

Decision at p. 16 citing Enfish v. Microsoft at *4,  (emphasis added).

The Board concluded that the first prong of the Mayo/Alice test was not met.  The Board also went on to find that the second prong of the Mayo/Alice test was not met, noting DDR Holdings.  Consequently, the Board issued its order denying CBMR.

As noted in earlier posts, the Board has been known to rapidly adopt decisions from the courts, and this case demonstrates the velocity at which decisions are integrated into practice before the Board.

Target Corp. Requests Rehearing of Denied IPRs by Expanded PTAB Panel

Friday, October 17th, 2014

October 17, 2014

Last month, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) interpreted the IPR joinder provision, 35 U.S.C. § 315(c), to preclude joinder requests by an existing party to an ongoing proceeding.  (Target Corp. v. Destination Maternity Corp., IPR2014-00508 and IPR2014-00509.)  In these recent decisions, the Board decided that § 315(c) requires “party joinder” and not only “issue joinder.”  Interestingly, before this interpretation was announced the Board had allowed “issue joinder” without requiring joinder of a new party to the proceeding (Microsoft v. Proxyconn, IPR2013- 00109), and after this interpretation was announced at least one panel of the Board applied an analysis that did not appear to adopt this new interpretation (Microsoft Corp. v. Enfish LLC, IPRs 2014-00574, -00575, -00576, and -00577).

Last week, Target Corp. filed rehearing requests in both affected IPR proceedings in an effort to have the Board reconsider its interpretation of  35 U.S.C. § 315(c) with an expanded panel.  Target’s arguments are quite clearly stated in its Motion for Rehearing, some of which include:

  • The AIA was implemented for broad remedial purposes to improve patent quality and to provide a more efficient system for challenging patents that should not have issued.
  • These broad remedial purposes of the AIA empower the PTO to administer IPR proceedings in a way to reduce duplication of efforts and costs.
  • Laws pertaining to patent quality which are “remedial in nature, based on fundamental principles of equity and fairness” can be construed liberally.
  • The PTAB should interpret the joinder provision liberally to allow for consistency of prior decisions, and reduce gamesmanship in parallel district court litigation.

On that last point Target’s motion states:

Target’s Joinder Motion sets forth the unique facts of this case, which reveal that a significant prior art reference long known to the patent owner was withheld from Target in the parties’ parallel district court litigation until several weeks after Target’s one-year deadline under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). (Paper 3, at 1-6.) Under the Board’s decision here, a patent owner in parallel litigation with a petitioner can readily subvert the purposes of the AIA, see supra Part II.A, and the IPR process by withholding any significant prior art it may be uniquely aware of, or additional asserted claims, until after the petitioner’s one-year deadline under § 315(b).

Of course, joinder motions cannot be filed any time after institution of the prior proceeding — they must be filed within a month after the date of institution of the IPR for which joinder is requested:

§ 42.122 Multiple proceedings and Joinder.

(b) Request for Joinder. Joinder may be requested by a patent owner or petitioner. Any request for joinder must be filed, as a motion under § 42.22, no later than one month after the institution date of any inter partes review for which joinder is requested. The time period set forth in § 42.101(b) shall not apply when the petition is accompanied by a request for joinder.

However, in many cases the possibility of joinder of issues to a petitioner about a year after service of the lawsuit is still quite valuable to the petitioner and has been used to assert improved grounds and to attack newly asserted claims. (Microsoft v. Proxyconn, IPR2013- 00109.)

It will be interesting to see what the PTAB decides to do in Target’s IPR proceedings.  More importantly, it would be a great thing if this rehearing would result in  consistent joinder practice across panels in the future.

Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Guidance on Pro Hac Vice Admissions

Monday, November 19th, 2012

The PTAB (“Board”) has already decided some motions for pro hac vice admission in various PTAB case proceedings.  A recent decision in case IPR2012-00035 referenced an earlier decision on motion for pro hac vice admission in case IPR2013-00010.  The relevant part of that decision entered October 15, 2012 (Paper 6) states the rules for pro hac vice admission:

Section 42.10(c) of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) provides that:

The Board may recognize counsel pro hac vice during a proceeding upon a showing of good cause, subject to the condition that lead counsel be a registered practitioner and to any other conditions as the Board may impose. For example, where the lead counsel is a registered practitioner, a motion to appear pro hac vice by counsel who is not a registered practitioner may be granted upon showing that counsel is an experienced litigating attorney and has an established familiarity with the subject matter at issue in the proceeding.

The Board authorizes both parties to file motions for pro hac vice admission under 37 C.F.R. § 42.10(c) as follows:

1. Time for Filing

The time for filing pro hac vice motions is no sooner than twenty one (21) days after service of the petition, which is the time for filing patent owner mandatory notices. Parties seeking to oppose a motion for pro hac vice admission must file their opposition no later than one week after the filing of the underlying motion. No reply to any opposition shall be filed unless authorized by the Board.

2. Content of Motion

A motion for pro hac vice admission must:

a. Contain a statement of facts showing there is good cause for the Board to recognize counsel pro hac vice during the proceeding.

b. Be accompanied by an affidavit or declaration of the individual seeking to appear attesting to the following:

i. Membership in good standing of the Bar of at least one State or the District of Columbia;

ii. No suspensions or disbarments from practice before any court or administrative body;

iii. No application for admission to practice before any court or administrative body ever denied;

iv. No sanctions or contempt citations imposed by any court or administrative body;

v. The individual seeking to appear has read and will comply with the Office Patent Trial Practice Guide and the Board’s Rules of Practice for Trials set forth in part 42 of the C.F.R.;

vi. The individual will be subject to the USPTO Code of Professional Responsibility set forth in 37 C.F.R. §§ 10.20 et seq. and disciplinary jurisdiction under 37 C.F.R. § 11.19(a);

vii. All other proceedings before the Office for which the individual has applied to appear pro hac vice in the last three (3) years; and

viii. Familiarity with the subject matter at issue in the proceeding.

c. Where the affiant or declarant is unable to provide any of the information requested above in part 2(b) or make any of the required statements or representations under oath, the individual should provide a full explanation of the circumstances as part of the affidavit or declaration.

Claim Interpretation for Post-Grant Review and Inter Partes Review under the AIA – Part I

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Today, USPTO Director David Kappos posted a comment advocating the use of  the broadest reasonable interpretation standard (BRI) for claim interpretation in post grant review and inter partes review under the America Invents Act.  This is a topic of great interest among those conducting post-grant review of patents because of numerous conflicts occuring in practice due to different intepretive standards used in reexamination (now also post-grant review and inter partes review) and litigation.

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Marine Polymer Technologies v. HemCon, Inc. and Intervening Rights

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Marine Polymer Technologies, Inc. v. HemCon, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2011) is a widely reported case that raises some questions about the scope of the application of intervening rights.  It involves a matter where the literal language of a claim was not amended, yet absolute intervening rights were still found to apply to the accused infringer.  Marine Polymer owns U.S. Pat. No. 6,864,245 (the ’245 patent), which claims a polymer p-GlcNAc that accelerates hemostasis (the process which causes bleeding to stop) and is useful in trauma units for treating serious wounds.  Marine Polymer sued HemCon, alleging that HemCon infringed claims 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 17, and 20 of the ’245 patent.  (more…)

Reexamination Practice: One Size Does Not Fit All

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I attended a reexamination roundtable at the Patent Office last week where ideas for reexamination reform were proposed.  The Patent Office listened and took notes.  I thought it was a very productive meeting overall.  As the various speakers presented their comments to the questions posed by the Office, it reminded me how everyone views reexamination differently: 

  • Patent Owners who are trying to enforce their patents want a fair system that will not amount to a tool of delay and thin or meritless attacks on their patents;
  • Businesses and in-house counsel need a predictable system that can be used to challenge inferior patents and nuisance assertions;
  • Judges need to know that if a case is stayed pending reexamination, there will be a reasonably expedient final decision that can be used for the litigation;
  • Examiners need time and tools to help process unusually large and complicated reexaminations; and
  • The Patent Office needs clear rules that are fair to both sides, and can reach finality of a reexamination with special dispatch.

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Federal Circuit Decision in In re Tanaka

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

You might recall that we discussed the BPAI decision in In re Yasuhito Tanaka in an earlier post.  On April 15, the Federal Circuit reversed the BPAI decision and remanded the matter for further proceedings in accordance with the opinion.  The Federal Circuit held  that a patent owner that retains original patent claims and adds new narrower claims in a reissue application does indeed present a type of error correctable by reissue under 35 U.S.C. § 251.   (more…)

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!

Use Petitions to Reverse Determination of No SNQ in Inter Partes Reexaminations

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

You see a competitor’s patent and believe it is invalid.  You perform a prior art search and find prior art that you think would render at least some of the patent claims unpatentable.  So after thinking about it some more, you decide to file a reexamination request in the Patent Office.  In that request you illustrate that the prior art was not considered before (or can be considered in a new light) and you propose how the prior art can be used to reject the patent’s claims.  You file the request.

To your surprise, you learn that the Patent Office determined that some of your proposals were substantial new questions of patentability (SNQs) and some were not.  Therefore, a reexamination is ordered, but not against all of the claims you requested.  You petition the Director to order reexamination for the proposed substantial questions of patentability that were not adopted.  The Director denies that petition.  What can you do? (more…)