The PTAB continues to be split on the question of whether the PTAB has the authority to join an otherwise time-barred party to a inter partes review proceeding in which it is already a party. This week, over a dissent, a majority PTAB panel found that the PTAB does not have such authority.See IPR2015-00762, No. 12 Decision Denying Institution (P.T.A.B. Jul. 20, 2015). This same issue was addressed this past February by an expanded panel, with a 4 to 3 split decision coming to the opposite conclusion. See Target Corp. v. Destiny Maternity Corp., Case No., IPR2014-00508, No. 28 (PTAB Feb. 12, 2015).
Authored by Michelle Carniaux
Big pharma continues to be on the defensive against IPR attacks by financiers, this time, by filing a civil law suit against a financier/IPR petitioner. Last Friday, Allergan filed a complaint in the Central District of California for attempted extortion, unfair competition and malicious prosecution, against Ferrum Ferro Capital. According to the complaint, Ferrum Ferro filed an “objectively baseless IPR petition for the express purpose of monetizing the petition, including by attempting to extort compensation from Allergan.” Allergan, Inc. et al. v. Ferrum Ferro Capital, LLC et al., 8:15-cv-00992, No. 1 at 2 (C.D.Cal., June 19, 2015).
This morning, the Federal Circuit issued its second substantive decision on an appeal of a final IPR decision, and its first remanding back to the Board, in Microsoft Corp. v. Proxyconn, Inc. See Microsoft Corp. v. Proxyconn, Inc. 2015-1542, 2015-1543 (Fed. Cir. June 16, 2015); see also IPR2012-00026, IPR2013-00109. In its decision, the Federal Circuit re-affirmed that the broadest reasonable interpretation claim construction standard applies in IPR proceedings. 2015-1542 at 6 (citing In re Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC, 778 F.3d 1271 (Fed. Cir. 2015)). The Federal Circuit also made clear that it reviews the Board’s conclusions of law de novo and its finding of fact for substantial evidence. Id. at 2 (citation omitted). Accordingly, consistent with Teva Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 831 (2015), in reviewing the Board’s claim construction determinations, the Court reviews the Board’s claim constructions de novo and its underlying factual determinations involving extrinsic evidence for substantial evidence. Id. at 5-6.
Kyle Bass and his hedge fund Hayman Capital have become infamous for challenging the validity of patents owned by large biopharmaceutical companies, but now, “big pharma” is fighting back. On June 9, 2015, Celgene Corp. moved a step closer to ending Bass’ IPR reign of terror. In a set of IPRs challenging two patents owned by Celgene Corp. (IPR2015-01092,01096,1102,1103), the PTAB authorized briefing on a Motion for Sanctions over whether Bass and his related companies were, as alleged, “abus[ing] the IPR process for private financial gain.” IPR2015-01102, No. 7 at 6 (P.T.A.B. Jun. 9, 2015). Celgene argued that Bass intends to use the IPR process for the purpose of affecting the stock price of publicly traded companies, which is “not the purpose for which the IPR process was designed.” Id. Celgene also alleged that “one or more of the identified RPI previously threatened to file IPRs against the challenged patents unless Celgene met their demands.” Id. Celgene requested the Board to dismiss the petitions as a sanction for abuse of process and misuse of the IPR proceedings. Id.
Authored by Brian S. Mudge
In its second ruling on the scope of estoppel,1 the Board has rejected a patent owner’s attempt to terminate an AIA trial based on a final written decision involving the same patent. The case, Westlake Services, LLC v. Credit Acceptance Corp., CBM2014-00176 (PTAB May 14, 2015) (paper 28), involved a covered business method (CBM) proceeding brought in connection with U.S. patent no. 6,950,807. Although the ’807 patent was the subject of a final decision in a prior CBM case, the PTAB ruled that estoppel did not bar the second CBM proceeding because the specific claims of the ’807 patent at issue were not addressed in the prior final decision.