Posts Tagged ‘preponderance of the evidence’

PTAB Narrows Its Preliminary Claim Interpretation To Uphold Cellular Patent

Monday, February 13th, 2017

In July, 2014 Ericsson Inc. and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (“Ericsson”) petitioned for inter partes review of claims 1, 2, 8-12 and 18-22 of U.S. Patent No. 7,787,431 owned by Intellectual Ventures II  LLC (“IV”).  In February, 2015, the Board instituted trial on claims 1 and 2 based on obviousness grounds, but denied institution of obviousness grounds for claims 8-12 and 18-22.  In a final written decision dated January 29, 2016, claims 1 and 2 of the ’431 patent were determined to be unpatentable.  (IPR2014-01195, Paper 37.)

Ericsson filed a second IPR petition in August, 2015, again challenging claims 8-12 and 18-22.  (IPR2015-01664, August 3, 2015.)  Claim 8 is representative:

8. A cellular base station comprising:

circuitry configured to transmit a broadcast channel in an orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) coreband, wherein the core-band is substantially centered at an operating center frequency and the core-band includes a first plurality of subcarrier groups, wherein each subcarrier group includes a plurality of subcarriers, wherein the core-band is utilized to communicate a primary preamble sufficient to enable radio operations, the primary preamble being a direct sequence in the time domain with a frequency content confined within the core-band or being an OFDM symbol corresponding to a particular frequency pattern within the core-band,

wherein properties of the primary preamble comprise:

an autocorrelation having a large correlation peak with respect to sidelobes;

a cross-correlation with other primary preambles having a small cross-correlation coefficient with respect to power of other primary preambles; and

a small peak-to-average ratio; and

wherein a large number of primary preamble sequences exhibit the properties; and

circuitry configured to transmit control and data channels using a variable band including a second plurality of subcarrier groups, wherein the variable band includes at least the core-band.

In its Institution Decision, the Board provided a preliminary construction of “transmit[ting] a broadcast channel in an orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) core-band.”  (Institution Decision, p. 11.)  The Board stated: “the plain meaning of transmitting a broadcast channel in a core-band merely requires transmitting some part of the broadcast channel in a core-band and does not exclude transmitting another part of the broadcast channel outside the core-band.” Id.

IV disagreed with the Board’s preliminary construction, asserting that an ordinarily skilled artisan would have understood the limitation to exclude transmitting any portion of the recited broadcast channel outside of the core-band. (Patent Owner Resp., pp. 35–36.)  According to the Board, Ericsson did not agree with or dispute IV’s assertion, and only asserted that IV’s proposed construction adds no clarity and that no construction is necessary.

In its Final Written Decision, the Board decided that its preliminary construction was unreasonably broad in view of IV’s arguments and its expert’s testimony:

Upon further review of the ’431 patent, particularly in view of Patent Owner’s arguments supported by Dr. Zeger’s testimony discussed above, we are persuaded that our preliminary partial construction was unreasonably broad to the extent that construction indicated the transmitting a broadcast channel limitation would be met by the transmission of a broadcast channel that is only partially within the core-band. Thus, we agree with Patent Owner that to show that the transmitting “a broadcast channel in an” OFDMA core-band limitation is met, Petitioner must demonstrate that the prior art teaches or suggests transmitting a broadcast channel, wherein the entire channel is contained within the core-band.

(Final Written Decision, pp. 8-9.)  The Board determined that Ericsson’s prior art combination failed to teach transmitting a broadcast channel in an OFDMA core-band, as recited in independent claims 8 and 18.  The Board found that a particular prior art reference (Yamaura) did transmit in the OFDMA core-band at times, but it did not have sufficient evidence that at other times it did not transmit outside of that band, and therefore it did not teach the recited OFDMA core-band limitation.

Even though the second IPR was instituted for trial on claims 8-12 and 18-22 based on a broad construction of the claims, the claims were not shown to be obvious based on a narrowed interpretation of the claims adopted in the Final Written Decision.

Early PTAB Orders Demonstrate Differences Between AIA Patent Trials and District Court Trials

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Patent practitioners are still absorbing some of the differences and advantages that are unique to litigation in the PTAB as opposed to district court litigation.  For example, PTAB proceedings only decide questions of validity and are not directed to rule on questions of infringement or damages, as is the practice in traditional litigation.  Another example is that PTAB trials require that the petitioner provide a lot of technical arguments and factual evidence in the original petition, as opposed to traditional litigation where parties make sure they have a good faith basis to sue and then rely on discovery to later develop the case.  Thus, a petition for review of patentability in PTAB practice is more akin to a summary judgment motion than a complaint in trial practice.  But a PTAB petition is still very different than a summary judgment motion.  And these differences can be exploited to more inexpensively and quickly resolve validity issues.

In considering summary judgment, a judge must decide if there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact,” as set forth in FRCP Rule 56.  In contrast, the technical patent judges on the Board can decide technical disputes instantly and can resolve disputes of technical and legal nature.  PTAB panels use their technical and patent law experience to quickly identify dispositive issues and focus the parties on how their respective positions are being viewed by the Board early in the proceedings.  This means that PTAB trials will put a premium on identification of technical defects in patents early in the proceedings, as opposed to traditional litigation approaches that favor discovery before attempting summary judgment or that shy away from summary judgment as a mechanism for resolution of complex technical disputes.

Examples of the Board’s unique capabilities are already being demonstrated in recent orders.  For example, in an inter partes review by Chimei Innolux Corporation against Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co.,Ltd. concerning U.S. Patent No. 8,068,204 (IPR2013-00068), the Board squarely addressed technical disputes between what the petition asserted versus what the patent owner’s preliminary statement set forth when the Board decided to institute trial.

The Board took great care to understand and sift through extremely technical differences between the claimed subject matter and the prior art as it was characterized by the parties.  This is a highly complicated task, because the patent relates to improvements for substrate bonding and electrical connections in liquid-crystal displays and because the parties were advancing very technical arguments on both sides of the validity issue.  In this early order to institute trial the Board construed a phrase from the claims and used that construction to decide the merits of the positions taken by the petitioner and patent owner.  The Board then considered technical arguments made by both parties, such as whether a reference used in combination in an obviousness challenge teaches away from the combination (page 15), or whether it would have been obvious to employ a known (contact) structure (page 18).  The Board decided that certain arguments were not persuasive and used the order to focus the parties on the issues it ruled upon.  The following excerpt from pages 19-21 of the the order instituting trial demonstrates the attention to detail that the Board is devoting to these proceedings:

SEL responds that “[. . .] a person of ordinary skill in the art does not know whether an insulating film (first insulating film) is formed between the bottom layer of the first wiring line 127 (formed in the step of forming the scanning lines Yj) and the top layer of the first wiring line 127 (formed in the step of forming the data lines Xi).” (Prelim. Resp. 31.) According to SEL, Shiba’s “‘two-layered structure’” might be “sequentially stacked” without an insulating layer therebetween. (Id.) As noted, claim 31 requires such an intervening insulating layer.

SEL’s argument is not persuasive. Shiba implies or suggests that the two wiring layers in the two-layered structure 127, formed in the same manner as the two-layered scanning and data lines as the quoted passage shows, have an insulating layer therebetween just like the scanning and data lines. [cite omitted]  [. . .  .]  Skilled artisans also would have understood that overlapping portions readily could have been “partially connected” together by known methods, including using a connecting hole through such an insulating layer. [cite omitted]

Because the two-layered structure in Shiba’s lines 127 connect to pad 751, SEL maintains that under various hypothetical scenarios, pad 751 also must have a two-layered structure, and as such, with Sukegawa’s transparent layer modified to be on Shiba’s pad as CMI proposes in its ground of unpatentability, the pad structure would become a three-layered structure. . . .  SEL also argues that the Petition inconsistently conflates or interchanges Sukegawa’s transparent layer and the top layer of Shiba’s two-layered wiring structure 127, and thereby fails to show how the combination renders obvious the external connection line and transparent conductive film as recited in claims 31 and 54. (See Prelim. Resp. 25-26.)

It is clear from the analysis set forth by the Board that it is not afraid to weigh in on very technical issues and clarify how it perceives the arguments.  Of course, the preliminary response by the patent owner is considered a first initial response and is not a comprehensive response with evidence.  Therefore, the Board’s institution of trial is based on limited argument and is well before the patent owner has had an opportunity to fully respond.  But this process focuses the parties on issues that the Board (at least initially) perceives to be negative to the patent.  It is a preliminary ruling on the disputed issues by the Board that will shape discovery to come, as opposed to traditional litigation where discovery often leads and shapes the issues brought before the court.

Parties who believe that an asserted patent has validity issues may find it difficult to challenge disputed technical issues in summary judgment motion practice.  Validity issues are frequently accompanied with fact questions and in litigation there is a clear and convincing standard for invalidity that makes it hard to prove invalidity.  And it is unlikely that counsel will recommend a motion for summary judgment before conducting at least some discovery.  In contrast, in patent reviews and reexaminations the burden of proof is based on a preponderance of the evidence and can be done without discovery.  Given the different standards and the costs of e-discovery, there are significant advantages to the PTAB patent review option for defendants with genuine validity arguments.  But one must be careful to choose the PTAB trial option carefully to avoid estoppel should the proceeding not result in destruction of the relevant patent claims.

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.

(more…)

Microsoft v. i4i – Part III: Changing the Presumption of Validity: Impact on Reexamination Practice

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Posted March 14, 2011

The prior post discussed only some of the many options the Supreme Court has in the Microsoft v. i4i case (i4i).  In summary, the presumption of validity of a patent as we currently know it may be changed and the standard of proof required for an accused infringer to prove invalidity may be lowered from the current “clear and convincing” evidence standard. 

But we have all read that the presumption of validity does not apply in reexamination, right?  And the i4i case turned on evidence of a statutory bar concerning offer of sale evidence that could have been difficult to introduce in a reexamination context because of the limited scope of reexamination.  So how can a change to the presumption of validity affect reexamination?  We have to assume different Supreme Court holding scenarios to answer that question.  Of course, these scenarios are not exhaustive and are used simply to demonstrate the commensurate impact on reexamination practice. (more…)

Microsoft v. i4i and the Presumption of Validity – Part 1

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Posted March 5, 2011

In Microsoft v. i4i, which has been granted certiorari by the Supreme Court, Microsoft’s position is that the presumption of validity should not be enjoyed by a patent owner for prior art not considered by an Examiner in ex parte prosecution of a patent application.  The upshot of its position is that the standard for the burden of proof of patent invalidity should be “preponderance of the evidence” (as opposed to the “clear and convincing evidence” standard) for prior art not considered by the Examiner in the original ex parte prosecution.

This blog posting will not take a position as to what the law should be.  That is the Supreme Court’s job.  But let’s consider the presumption of validity and how a change in the standard of the burden of proof affects reexamination, among other things.

Microsoft’s petition for certiorari includes alleged facts that i4i had offered for sale software containing the invention over a year before its filing date.  Thus, the patent claims to the invention were alleged to be invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102(b) because of the offer of sale.  (i4i alleges that the software offered for sale did not have the invention.)  That offer of sale evidence was not before the Examiner in the prosecution of i4i’s patent.  And i4i did not have the software at the time of the litigation.  Ultimately, Microsoft was unable to prove the offer of sale included the invention under the clear and convincing standard applied by the trial court.  So Microsoft’s position is that the presumption of validity should not apply for prior art not considered by the examiner, and it should not have to prove invalidity based on the higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard.

This is the fact pattern:

  • Applicant makes a prior offer of sale of software
  • Applicant gets a patent without presenting the prior offer of sale information and it is not considered by the Examiner
  • Evidence of prior art software is destroyed or lost and litigation commences without the software in evidence
  • Defendant alleges prior art software includes the invention
  • Defendant is held to a clear and convincing standard for proof of invalidity
  • Evidence not enough for trial court under the clear and convincing standard

Microsoft offers up KSR v. Teleflex and several circuit decisions that find the presumption of validity compromised when the examiner does not have all of the relevant evidence for consideration in the ex parte prosecution.

That is because the presumption of validity is premised on a presumption of administrative correctness.  That means the Patent Office is deemed to have done its job in examining the patent application and in deference to that presumption of administrative correctness, a higher burden of proof standard (clear and convincing) is used.

So what might the Supreme Court do with all of this?  And how does this relate to reexamination?  These will be discussed in my next few posts.