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.
Authored by Brian S. Mudge and Andrew D. Kasnevich
Congress enacted the transitional program for post-grant review of covered business method (“CBM”) patents by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board as a quick and cost-effective way to adjudicate the validity of business method patents. In determining whether to institute a patent trial, the PTAB normally decides, as a threshold matter, whether the challenged patent qualifies as a covered business method, i.e., whether the patent claims a method, or corresponding apparatus, that is used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service. In the early stages of the program’s existence, the PTAB found a range of business methods and software patents eligible for CBM review.1
Authored by Brian S. Mudge
In the brief history of AIA trials, the Board has granted only a handful of motions to amend — six at the time of the Supreme Court oral argument in Cuozzo. A recent decision by the Board has upped that number by one. The case, Google v. ContentGuard Holdings1, involved a motion to amend which also requested the Board’s opinion that the amended claim was substantially identical to the originally issued claim.
Key Takeaway: A patent owner who successfully amends a claim in an AIA trial can gain further advantage by also requesting a determination that the new claim is substantially identical to the original claim. With a new claim declared not only patentable but also of the same scope as the original claim, a patent owner can defeat arguments regarding intervening rights as to the amended claim.
Authored Brian S. Mudge
In its first decision addressing the post-grant patent trial program recently established by Congress, the Supreme Court in Cuozzo1 has given a resounding victory to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Rejecting a challenge to the PTO’s handling of these new proceedings, the ruling confirms that the Office has broad powers to determine how the cases will be tried and the standards used to govern them. As a result, patent owners will continue to face a difficult path before the PTO in defending challenges to patent validity — one that, to date, has proven to be significantly more hazardous than the courts to patentees.
In two CBM decisions following the Federal Circuit’s recent Enfish1 opinion, the PTAB has considered patent eligibility of inventions directed to computer databases. The result: one ruling in favor of patent eligibility and one against. These decisions highlight the importance, when adjudicating section 101 challenges, of determining what problem the patent at issue is attempting to solve – and the patent specification may be critical to answering this question.