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04.24.18

Koch Brothers and Big Oil Could Not Buy the Decisions in Oil States, SAS

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: The Anti-PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board) Lobby is Partly Funded by the Koch Brothers and the Right Wing

Inside How the Federalist Society & Koch Brothers Are Pushing for Trump to Reshape Federal Judiciary
Reference: Inside How the Federalist Society & Koch Brothers Are Pushing for Trump to Reshape Federal Judiciary

Summary: In Oil States Energy Services v Greene’s Energy Group, a case which Koch-funded think tanks meddled in (including those whose panel guests send me threatening legal letters), ends up with dissent from a Koch-connected Justice citing or quoting those very same Koch-funded think tanks

THE DECISION that can rattle low-quality patents at the USPTO (but not PTAB, which actually deals with such low-quality patents) was covered here a couple of hours after it had come out (i.e. as soon as I returned home from Town). It turns out, in retrospect, that many people just “tweeted” about it rather than decided to write something detailed, long, and sensible. Media as it used to be is no more; people are getting too lazy to write long articles.

“Media as it used to be is no more; people are getting too lazy to write long articles.”Among the very early reactions we have Professor Risch, who wrote: “Oil States is out: Inter Partes Review is valid, but patents are still property. Gorsuch and Roberts dissent. [] More surprising than Oil States, SAS is out and Gorsuch writes a straightforward (to the 5 who signed on) statutory interpretation: partial institution is not in the statute. The PTO must grant the full petition (or deny it) and decide all claims raised.”

Gorsuch was reusing talking points from Koch-funded ‘scholars’. They got mentioned by Koch-backed Justices. Surprise? They even gloated about it! “Sad and Happy Day,” one of them said, “Supreme Court holds that #patent rights are regulatory-style “public rights” in Oil States v. Greene’s Energy, but at least my scholarship on patents as private #property rights quoted & cited repeatedly in dissenting opinion.”

He means Gorsuch. This reaffirms the Koch (Big Oil) connection. Are Justices up for sale? Can decisions be bought? Well, not entirely, but perhaps some votes can be ‘arranged’ with the power of money and ‘politicians’ like Donald Trump (it was him who nominated Gorsuch).

Another pundit said: “It will be interesting to see what happens after today’s SCOTUS SAS decision on IPR. Will PTAB grant review in pretty much the same number of cases and just need more time (or more judges), or will they deny more petitions for review because of higher per-case workload?”

The goal of slowing down PTAB isn’t a novel one. The patent extremists will do anything they can to make that happen.

Thomas F. Cotter (scholar, albeit not a Koch-funded one) had this to say:

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Inter Partes Review
In what must be one of its most important patent opinions in recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning upheld the constitutionality of inter partes reviews (IPRs)–the opposition-like procedures that Congress established in 2011 as part of the America Invents Act–in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC. Opinion here. I’m not surprised by the ruling, but I am relieved; some of the questions posed during oral argument last November left me just a tad worried about the ultimate outcome (see post here). The breakdown of opinions does not fall along the typical ideological lines: Justice Thomas writes the majority opinion, joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Another scholar, Jason Rantanen, wrote about this decision in Oil States Energy Services v Greene’s Energy Group along with SAS. On the former he wrote:

Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group: Inter partes review does not violate Article III or the 7th Amendment. Patents are public rights for purposes of this question. This holding is a self-proclaimed narrow one that “should not be misconstrued as suggesting that patents are not property for the purposes of the Due Process Clause or Takings Clause.” Thomas for the majority; Breyer with a concurring opinion (joined by Ginsburg and Sotomayor), Gorsuch dissenting (joined by Roberts).

The CCIA wrote about it much later. Under “Even If The PTAB Thinks A Claim Is Valid, It Has To Conduct An IPR Anyway” (and in conclusion) the CCIA said:

The second case, SAS v. Matal, focused on the statutory language authorizing IPR. The challenger argued that this required the PTAB to conduct an inter partes review and issue a final decision on every challenged claim if at least one claim appeared to be invalid; in contrast, the PTAB only conducted a review and issued a decision on the claims that they had determined met the invalidity threshold in the institution decision. Patent Progress covered this case when it was filed, and—unfortunately—correctly predicted the outcome.

[...]

The alternative, where the PTAB effectively eliminates substantive analysis in the institution decision (other than stating that a single claim had been shown likely invalid), is even worse. In this case there isn’t even the guidance as to which claims the PTAB believed invalid. Instead, every claim has to be argued over. The parties won’t know the scope of the dispute, meaning that they’re less likely to settle with one another. And district courts, unable to determine if the PTAB feels all claims are invalid or only one, will become less likely to stay cases.

Given the importance of this procedural change, the PTO must provide petitioners and patent owners with information as to what they should expect regarding the conduct of proceedings at the first opportunity. Subsidiary concerns like the standard of review can wait.

Last but not least, Dugie Standeford from IP Watch wrote behind a paywall. The introduction says:

United States Patent and Trademark Office inter partes reviews are legal and do not violate Article III of the Constitution or the 7th Amendment, the US Supreme Court said today. While the decision was expected, practitioners before the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board can now rest easy, as one patent lawyer put it.

We expect more spin and lots of worship/love for Gorsuch from patent maximalists in the coming days/weeks. The problem is, not many people will dare speak of the influence of money (like the front groups and think tanks involved). Best dissent oil money can buy?

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