For the second time in less than a month, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 12, 2017 granted certiorari in a case involving inter partes review. In Oil States v. Greene’s Energy Group, the Court has agreed to decide whether administrative patent trials, launched in 2012 by the America Invents Act, are Constitutional. The case will decide if the AIA patent review program, which has resulted in over 1,500 final decisions declaring some or all challenged claims unpatentable, remains viable, or whether validity challenges must be heard by the district courts. A ruling that AIA patent trials are unconstitutional would result in substantial change to the current patent litigation landscape and strategy.
On May 22, 2017, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in SAS Institute, Inc. v. Lee, agreeing to decide whether the PTAB is required to issue a final written decision with respect to patentability of all claims challenged in a petition for inter partes review (IPR) or whether it may issue a final written decision with respect to only some of the claims challenged in the petition. The case may significantly affect how the PTAB handles IPR proceedings.
Authored by Brian Mudge
We have previously written about disputes regarding whether a prior art reference qualifies as a publication in AIA trials. In a recent decision, the Board ruled that a prior art reference did not qualify as a publication under §102(a). The case, Activision Blizzard v Acceleration Bay, rejected petitioner’s attempt to rely on a 1999 technical report allegedly published by University of California / San Diego (“UCSD”).
Key Takeaway: This case demonstrates that the PTAB will adhere to demanding requirements for petitioners to establish that a reference qualifies as a prior art publication. Petitioners should be prepared to provide detailed evidence showing a prior art reference was publicly accessible before the priority date of a challenged patent. Meanwhile, patent owners should take advantage of opportunities to challenge the public accessibility of references, particularly where the evidence and arguments in a petition are conclusory; such challenges can be effective in a preliminary response and may derail a case before trial is instituted.
Authored by Brian S. Mudge
We have previously written about disputes over prior art used in an AIA patent trial. A recent case presented challenges to materials obtained from the Internet. The case, Johns Manville Corp. v. Knauf Insulation, Inc., involved a petitioner’s reliance on exhibits downloaded from the Wayback Machine as prior art. In its final written decision, the PTAB determined that Wayback Machine exhibits were sufficiently authenticated and reliable to withstand a motion to exclude. However, the Board’s ruling did not specifically address one aspect of the challenge relating to a party, Alexa Internet, which initially captured the Internet pages that were archived.
In a recent decision, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that a reference used to support each of the grounds for invalidity did not qualify as prior art. The case, GoPro v. Contour IP, involved the Board’s analysis of whether a reference, the GoPro Catalog, was publicly accessible to persons of ordinary skill in the art. Because the Petitioner failed to establish that reference was publicly accessible to ordinary artisans, the PTAB rejected the instituted prior art challenges without reaching the merits of the obviousness grounds. The Board also denied the parties’ respective admissibility challenges to evidence relating to the GoPro Catalog.