12.10.16

The US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Maintains High Pace of Patent Invalidation, in Spite of Appeals to CAFC

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 3:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CAFCA (or Kafka) won’t save bad patents from their inevitable demise, as the boards of appeal in the US grow stronger, whereas in the EPO (Eponia) they grow weaker and increasingly understaffed, lacking independence, and too expensive to be reachable

USPTO and EPO

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), i.e. the court system, has become the last resort of serial litigators, as the PTAB gets in their way more and more often following AIA and Alice

THE quality of patents enshrined or ‘blessed’ by the USPTO must improve in lieu with high courts’ decisions, e.g. Alice (2014). Otherwise the applicants with their newly-granted patents will simply lack confidence in their patents and will be too reluctant to pursue patent licensing, litigation. etc. Patents are only worth anything if there is sufficient evidence to back claims of novelty and non-triviality. Otherwise, these patents are only useful for trolls (preying in cash-limited businesses and pursuing out-of-court settlements en masse). Patents were originally conceived for the purpose of publication and dissemination of knowledge, but nowadays nobody with a clue will look into them for insight because that can lead to wilfulness in infringement (i.e. higher damages). Some patent professionals at very large companies have said so explicitly and publicly.

Last year and earlier this year, the appeals board at the US (PTAB) eliminated a very large number patents. This has had a profound effect not only on the patents directly affected; companies and patent trolls found out that even if they don’t sue with a patent but merely strut around and pursue ‘protection money’ they can have their patents spontaneously eliminated (shortly after petition/s for review). Suffice to say, patent maximalists and apologists of patent trolls were upset about it; in some cases CAFC was chased to rescue them from the justice of the board, after they had claimed injustice. This merely wasted CAFC’s time (and limited resources) as CAFC usually did nothing to oppose the boards’ decisions; it barely even bothered looking into it.

Another CAFC case regarding patents reviewed by PTAB made some headlines last week. As Patently-O put it:

In an important obviousness decision, the Federal Circuit has reversed the PTAB IPR decision – holding that the PTAB failed to sufficiently explain its ruling that a person having ordinary skill in the art (PHOSITA) would have been motivated to combine the prior art teachings to create the patented invention. Although expressing its intent to follow KSR, the court here comes closer to trodding upon that (oft maligned) precedent.

The case involves an Inter Partes Review (IPR) challenge of NuVasive’s spinal fusion implant patent (U.S. Patent No. 8,361,156). The claims require that the implants include, inter alia, radiopaque markers on the medial plane. The PTAB found the claims invalid as obvious based upon a collection of prior art references related to spinal fusion.

“Federal Circuit vacates PTAB decision on NuVasive patent” was the headline of another article about this case. To quote:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has vacated and remanded a patent suit which NuVasive had appealed against after having patent claims invalidated.

The decision from yesterday, December 7, followed an appeal from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which held that certain claims of US patent number 8,361,156 are invalid as obvious.

NuVasive is the owner of the ‘156 patent, which relates to a “System and method for spinal fusion comprising a spinal fusion implant of non-bone construction releasably coupled to an insertion instrument dimensioned to introduce the spinal fusion implant into any of a variety of spinal target sites”.

This patent does not involve software, but it has an impact on various future PTAB cases, many of which do involve software. Any Inter Partes Review (IPR) can end up in the CAFC’s queue/desk, so this has broader ramifications, hence the media coverage. Patently-O‘s Dennis Crouch has meanwhile been asking about Ex Parte, not IPR: “Have you read any great writing on the difference between the process of judging a contested case vs an uncontested (or ex parte) case?”

These things are worth keeping track of as they generally define the level of certainty associated with patent lawsuits (or other forms of patent assertion). Michael Loney, writing for MIP from New York, shows that the number of PTAB filings is roughly steady compared to last year, in terms of petitions files. “This year is still below the record highs of 2015,” he notes (by a small margin), “but it has got closer as the year has progressed. The monthly average for the whole of 2015 was 149.8 petitions filed. So far this year the monthly average is 145.6.”

That’s just an average difference of 4 petitions per month. In other words, PTAB isn’t going away. Compare that to the massive year-to-year difference when it comes to patent litigation in the US — a subject covered here on numerous occasions before. It sure sounds promising and we certainly hope that patent disputes will, over time, be brought before PTAB (cheaper to both parties) rather than courts. It’s certainly not good for patent lawyers, but then again, what were they ever good for if not just themselves?

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2016/12/10/ptab-appeals-to-cafc/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Classic: Old EPO Strike

    2008 EPO video, predating the Benoît Battistelli EPO regime



  2. Links 13/6/2021: Linux 5.14 Work, Lots of Patent News

    Links for the day



  3. Update on Gemini, IPFS, and IRC

    "The video which was supposed to be a few minutes long ended up taking a lot longer, but it does cover a broad range of topics that are relevant and very recent (based on recent developments)."



  4. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, June 12, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, June 12, 2021



  5. Virtual Injustice -- Part 5: Benoît's “Friends” in Budapest

    "Battistelli went to considerable lengths to secure the support of the Hungarian delegation."



  6. Links 13/6/2021: KDE Frameworks 5.83.0 and helloSystem 0.5

    Links for the day



  7. The Story of Techrights, in Banners...

    A look back at site banners from 2006-2021; they help illuminate or show our changing focus over the years



  8. With KDE Plasma 5.22 Having Just Been Released It's Time to Give KDE a Try (or Move to GNU/Linux, Leveraging the Best Features of Any Operating System Out There)

    A quick recommendation of KDE based on a reasonably recent (but not latest) build; there's this myth about KDE being difficult and flaky, but for a number of decades it has been the most advanced desktop (on any operating system) and its developers managed to hide the complexity while offering users all the power they may want/need



  9. Open Letter to the FSF About Taking Control of the FSF's (and GNU's) IRC Channels

    The FSF should have seized the opportunity, in light of self-harming IRC infighting (instability and unpredictability), to create its own IRC network and then help this new (or "GNU") network flourish



  10. EU Already Captured by -- and Lying for -- Corrupt EPO Officials, Team UPC, and Lobbyists of Multinational Corporations

    12 pages of lies; is the European Parliament reduced to a mere marionette of corrupt officials who run the EPO into the ground?



  11. [Meme] Virtual Code of Conduct (ViCoC)

    Cheapening of basic concepts and principles like "right to be heard" or "access to justice" is an international trend; we need to push back in the direction of justice, not fake 'innovation' or 'tech' (where it clearly does not belong)



  12. IRC Proceedings: Friday, June 11, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, June 11, 2021



  13. Virtual Injustice -- Part 4: Mihály Ficsor, the EPO's Hungarian “Fixer”

    One key operative of António Campinos, who is fiercely in favour of software patents, has quite a colourful past and background



  14. Conversation With Richard Stallman in Brazil, May 31st 2021

    At the end of last month Richard Stallman had a 2-hour (and beyond, considering some of the afterthoughts) conversation, which is now available online



  15. Links 11/6/2021: Nginx Rising and SteamPal Rumours

    Links for the day



  16. New Introduction at Gemini

    As part of ongoing improvements to our capsule we have a new introductory text, reproduced below



  17. Links 11/6/2021: A Torvalds COVID Rant and RISC-V Risk of Takeover

    Links for the day



  18. Petition Against Richard Stallman Continues Losing Signatures, Open Letter of Support Reaches 6,750 Signatures

    The latest (if not last) person to garden the anti-RMS petition is an IBM employee. As has been the case for months. Another removal. IBM has a grudge against GNU's founder and by extension the FSF (they want the FSF to be a slave of IBM, just like the Linux Foundation is; we last covered this a day ago). “An open letter in support of Richard Matthew Stallman being reinstated by the Free Software Foundation” has meanwhile reached 6,750 signatures and that number grows by about 50 every 3-4 weeks, so it’s reasonable to expect 7,000 by year’s end. The anti-RMS petition may fall below 3,000.



  19. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 10, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 10, 2021



  20. Virtual Injustice -- Part 3: All the President's Men…

    Benoît Battistelli‘s army of minions, combined with former colleagues of António Campinos, team up to participate in the legal fudge of the EPO



  21. EPO ‘ViCo’ Prior Art (or ViCo Going Back to the 1980s)

    A previous post (video from yesterday) gave examples of prior art from the early/ier 1990s, debunking the EPO’s foolish and irrational embrace of this notion that so-called ‘ViCo’ is so absolutely incredible (we’ve kept talking, e.g. in many prior videos, about how the only real ‘innovation’ was connection speeds); MinceR recalls that “when UMTS (“3G”) was new, video calls on mobile was the feature that was supposed to sell the technology” and in the mid-80s you could already see who you spoke to (almost) in real time



  22. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Needs to Get Its Act Together on the EPO's GDPR Violations

    EU authorities aren't keeping abreast of EPO abuses; as a result, people's basic rights and fundamental sense of dignity erode, with impunity resulting in passage of massive piles of data to foreign corporations and governments that engage in industrial and political espionage



  23. Links 10/6/2021: Raspberry Digital Signage 15.0, NVIDIA Driver 470

    Links for the day



  24. EPO 'ViCo' Prior Art (~30 Years Ago): Barely Innovative at All

    Debunking the EPO‘s Big Lie that ViCo is some sort of incredible and innovative thing that must therefore be embraced fully; the missing ingredient was fast network connections, so there’s no excuse for EPO claiming that we must embrace such stuff irrespective of the law, constitutions etc.



  25. Improvements in the Techrights Gemini Capsule

    Further improvements are being made to our Gemini capsule, which contains all the latest stories sans the graphics; it now has a total of 35,820 pages



  26. Linux Foundation is a Foundation of Mass Surveillance

    Whatever the so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation touches turns to dust; they’re already killed the site known as Linux.com and now they scatter the “Linux” brand to the wind (in pursuit of misbranding cash)



  27. [Meme] Lord Justice Sir

    Inspired by an old Internet joke, we present the state of EPO 'justice'



  28. The EPO's Lack of Objective Legal System is No Laughing Matter

    The array of abuses committed by António Campinos and his EPO minions (people who meddle in legal affairs) is mentioned in this new video; we focus on what was shown this morning, i.e. in Part 2 of an ongoing series (to last two more weeks)



  29. Virtual Injustice -- Part 2: The ViCo Oral Proceedings of 28 May 2021

    More than half a day of theatrics and stonewalling by the EBA may have done a damage so enormous to the EBA's credibility that irrespective of the final outcome the case is already seen as compromised



  30. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 09, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, June 09, 2021


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts