10.05.17

PTAB Will Reach New Highs/All-Time Record This Year, Cleaning Up the Patent System by Throwing Away Invalid Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 3:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many of these are software patents which pose a threat

High Tech Inventors Alliance members
Even Cisco, which came under fire from PTAB, strongly supports PTAB

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is defying resistance from the patent trolls’ lobby and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) once again defends PTAB, in essence lifting a ban erroneous imposed by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC)

THE EPO is pushing away its appeal boards, but the USPTO does the exact opposite by sending more IPRs their way. IPRs are the procedure by which PTAB invalidates patents which should never have been granted in the first place.

Record year for PTAB IPRs (i.e. elimination of bad patents)? It certainly seems so. Even patent maximalists are willing to admit so, having crunched some numbers. But here’s the spin they put on it (as usual):

The third quarter had the fewest Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions since the first quarter of 2016. In September, the Board designated one of its decisions as informative and also granted a rare rehearing in an IPR involving the Coalition for Affordable Drugs

Ignoring this kind of spin, which conveniently omits all the numbers from 2012-2015, the PTAB is set to break another new record this year. Thousands of bad patents are being looked at and many get invalidated.

The patent maximalists who try hard to crush PTAB, even by scandalising it, also wrote about Aqua Products v Matal yesterday. PTAB judges are being pressured to become more lenient. As one PTAB opponent put it:

The opinion package, is 148 pages in length and includes five separate opinions walking the question of deference to PTO Decisionmaking.

Michael Loney put it like this:

The long-awaited Aqua Products ruling is narrow – a result of different views on the judgment and the rationale that should be employed. The matter is remanded for the PTAB to consider the patentability of the proposed substitute claims without placing the burden of persuasion on the patent owner

That’s not a very profound difference. In fact, we very much doubt it will — in any shape or form — impact the numbers above. PTAB is generally very widely supported by industry. As we pointed out yesterday, all the PTAB opponents are connected to patent trolls and cranks.

As we noted yesterday, even Cisco openly supports PTAB. That’s in spite of the fact that, at least in the Arista case, PTAB was used against Cisco. The case was recalled yesterday (“Why Hewlett Packard Enterprise Is Backing Arista, Not Cisco”) and Jones Day wrote a long article about it. Here are some key bits:

The Federal Circuit has determined to partially stay an ITC exclusion order as it pertains to products redesigned after the remedial orders issued. We have previously posted about Certain Network Devices, Related Software and Components Thereof (II); Inv. No. 337-TA-745 and the ITC’s refusal to stay its remedial orders after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found the asserted patents unpatentable in an IPR proceeding. Respondent Arista has had better luck in the Federal Circuit obtaining a stay of the remedial orders for its redesigned products.

[...]

Shortly after the Commission’s final determination and issuance of the remedial orders, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued final written decisions finding the asserted claims of the ‘577 and ‘668 patents unpatentable. In view of the PTAB’s findings, Arista filed an emergency petition asking the ITC to rescind or suspend the remedial orders. The Commission denied Arista’s request, concluding that the PTAB’s final written determinations did not constitute changed circumstances warranting rescission of the LEO or CDO.

[...]

The Federal Circuit’s order highlights the value of redesigning accused products to avoid patent claims as a defense in ITC investigations. Ordinarily, it is best for a respondent to develop and introduce potential product redesigns early in the underlying investigation. By asking the ITC to consider the redesigned products in the underlying investigation, respondents can avoid having to defend their redesigned products in a later enforcement proceeding, and preclude sanctions in the event that the redesign still infringes. Here, Arista was able to obtain a rare stay at the Federal Circuit based on its redesign, but it remains unclear whether the CAFC would have ruled the way it did if Cisco had not relied on the redesigned products to rebut irreparable harm to Arista. Eventually, Cisco may be successful in excluding Arista’s redesigned product from importation. But for now, despite the ITC’s remedial orders, Arista can continue to import at least some of its products.

In short, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) quickly rectified the matter and the ban has been lifted. In some sense, CAFC stepped in to reaffirm PTAB’s judgment (subject also to a redesign).

It is utterly outrageous that the US ITC continues to pretend that invalid (invalidated by PTAB) patents still apply, as we said several times earlier this year (see 2017 articles in this wiki page).

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