On August 13, 2018, the PTO published a public notice announcing the first update to the Office Patent Trial Practice Guide since its original introduction in August 2012. The update adds or substantially revises several procedural guidelines for trial proceedings—most notably, the Board will now permit sur-replies under the standard scheduling order in most cases. The update also addresses the role of expert testimony, motions to exclude and motions to strike, live testimony at oral hearing, and factors affecting the Board’s discretion to decline institution.

The August 2018 update to the Trial Practice Guide is available here, and the original 2012 Trial Practice Guide remains available here.

Details on key provisions in the Trial Practice Guide update are provided below.
Continue Reading PTAB Issues Substantial Updates to the Patent Trial Practice Guide

Today the Federal Circuit (Judges Moore, Dyk, and Reyna) ruled in St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. that tribal sovereign immunity does not apply in IPR proceedings. The appeal represented the first opportunity for the Federal Circuit to address the issue of sovereign immunity in IPR proceedings.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Affirms that Tribal Sovereign Immunity Does Not Apply in IPRs

SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu, 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018), established a clear rule requiring institution on all challenged claims in future IPR proceedings. But the Supreme Court’s April 24 decision created immediate uncertainty regarding the hundreds of IPRs in which the PTAB had already instituted review or issued a final written decision on fewer than all claims and all grounds presented in the petition. The Federal Circuit’s immediately apparent interest in SAS transitional issues has led to swift action—the court’s precedential decision in PGS Geophysical AS v. Iancu explains that (1) SAS requires institution on all claims and all grounds presented in a petition for IPR, (2) the Federal Circuit can exercise appellate jurisdiction in pre-SAS cases where the Board granted only partial institution, and (3) parties can waive requests for SAS-based relief on appeal.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Rules that Pre-SAS Appeals from Partially Instituted IPRs Can Proceed

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu, 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018), has bred considerable uncertainty about what to do with the multitude of pending inter partes review (IPR) cases that were instituted under pre-SAS standards. The adjudicators tasked with applying SAS in those cases—at the PTAB and the Federal Circuit—are now sorting through the fallout.

The PTAB reacted quickly by releasing guidance two days after SAS that outlined the agency’s initial response: (1) future institution decisions will be decided on an all-or-nothing basis as to all claims and all grounds in the petition, (2) panels presiding over pending trials that were instituted on fewer than all claims and grounds in the petition are issuing orders to supplement the institution decision and institute on all claims and grounds, and (3) panels may take further actions in individual pending cases, such as allowing supplemental briefing or extending trial deadlines, depending on factors such as the particulars of the case, the stage of proceedings, and input from the parties. The PTAB noted that it will continue to assess its response to SAS and may issue additional guidance in the future.

The Federal Circuit is likewise wrestling with SAS.
Continue Reading SAS Institute v. Iancu – What Now?

The PTAB recently designated as “informative” two decisions exploring how 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) applies to art or arguments previously presented to the Office at the institution stage:  Becton, Dickinson & Co. v. B. Braun Melsungen AG, IPR2017-01586, Paper No. 8 (PTAB Dec. 15, 2017), and Kayak Software Corp. v. International Business Machines Corp., CBM2016-00075, Paper No. 16 (PTAB Dec. 15, 2016).  In those decisions, the Board identified several factors that guide its discretion in applying § 325(d).  The Board underscored the broad relevance of those factors by designating Becton Dickinson and Kayak Software as informative.

In both cases, the Board invoked § 325(d) to deny institution of asserted obviousness grounds based on references that had been considered during original prosecution of the challenged patents.  The examiner had not addressed the precise combinations of prior art references asserted in each of the petitions, but the Board concluded that incremental, non-substantive differences in asserted secondary references did not distinguish the patentability issues previously considered by the Office.  In so doing, the Board identified factors that may influence the § 325(d) analysis. 
Continue Reading PTAB Offers Further Guidance On Its Willingness To Hear Arguments Previously Presented