Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Hulu, LLC, Netflix, Inc., Appeal No. 2019-1686 (Fed. Cir., July 22, 2020).

Uniloc owned a patent entitled “System and Method for Adjustable Licensing of Digital Products.” In an IPR, petitioners Hulu and Netflix successfully challenged Uniloc’s claims. Uniloc, however, also filed a motion to amend to add substitute claims. Petitioner Hulu challenged the substitute claims under section 101 grounds.

Uniloc responded by arguing that Hulu could not raise section 101 in an IPR, but did not address Hulu’s arguments on the merits. Ultimately, the PTAB determined that the substitute claims were patent ineligible on Section 101 grounds and denied Uniloc’s motion to amend.
Continue Reading Section 101 Plays a Role in IPRs

Ciena Corp. v. Oyster Optics, LLC, Appeal No. 2019-2117 (Fed. Cir., May 5, 2020).

On January 28, 2020, the Federal Circuit issued a non-precedential order that denied IPR petitioner Ciena’s motion to have a judgment vacated and remanded under Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 941 F.3d 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2019). The order was made precedential on May 5, 2020.
Continue Reading Arthrex Is Not for Everyone

Argentum Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Appeal No. 2018-2273 (Fed. Cir., April 23, 2020).

Argentum and other petitioners filed IPRs against Novartis’ patent related to methods of treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Novartis prevailed before the PTAB. All petitioners then settled but for Argentum.
Continue Reading Article III Standing Strikes Again

Ex parte Grillo-Lopez, Appeal No. 2018-006082 (April 7, 2020).

On April 7, 2020, The PTAB denied rehearing in Ex parte Grillo-Lopez (August 28, 2019) and issued a precedential decision explaining the denial. The appeal concerned final rejections that the examiner issued based upon an FDA transcript, which applicants argued was not prior art. The FDA transcript in question was the subject of previous IPRs, where the PTAB held that the FDA transcript was not shown to have been a printed publication. Opinion at 2, fn 2.
Continue Reading IPRs and Patent Prosecution Are Not the Same

General Electric v. United Technologies Corp.

General Electric petitioned for an IPR against a United Technologies patent relating to gas turbine engines. General Electric was unsuccessful against certain claims, and sought to appeal. While there is a statutory right to appeal, the Federal Circuit dismissed General Electric’s appeal for lack of Article III standing. See Gen. Elec. Co . v. United Techs. Corp., 928 F.3d 1349 (Fed. Cir. 2019).
Continue Reading Standing to Appeal

Samsung Electronics America, Inc. v. Priusa Engineering Corp., Appeal Nos. 2019-1169, -1260 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 4, 2020).

Samsung filed an IPR petition against claims 1-4, 8 and 11 of U.S. Patent No. 8,650,591 owned by Priusa. The ‘591 patent was directed to editing video streams by substituting one object for a different one, such as a face. Slip op. at 4-5.
Continue Reading The PTAB Definitely Cannot do That

In an inter-partes review proceeding (IPR), a challenger can rely only on patents and printed publications to challenge the validity of a patent claim. In contrast, in a post grant review (PGR) proceeding, a challenger can rely on any ground related to patentability, including prior sale, to challenge a patent claim.  In particular, 35 U.S.C. §102(a)(1) bars a person from receiving a patent on an invention that was “in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.”
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds That AIA On-Sale Bar Applied to Secret Sales

The 2011 America Invents Act (AIA) provided a variety of new ways to administratively challenge patents, including the now widely used inter partes review (“IPR”) procedure.  In two recent appeals of IPR decisions, Genentech has challenged the constitutionality of IPR proceedings when applied to patents that were already issued as of the date that the AIA was enacted.

Genentech has filed two appeals to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) involving decisions by the U. S. Patent Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) invalidating certain patent rights issued to Genentech on immunotherapy biologics. (Federal Circuit Docket Nos. 18-1933 and 18-1959.)  These patents have been asserted against a number of competitors seeking to market biosimilar products to Genentech’s Avastin® and Herceptin® antibody therapeutics.

The appeals stem from two IPR Petitions filed by Hospira, IPR2016-01771 and IPR2016-01837, that challenged claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,622,115 and 7,807,799, respectively. The ’115 Patent issued in November 2009 and the ’799 Patent issued in October, 2010 – both issuance dates being well before the 2011 enactment of the AIA.  The PTAB initiated trials on both patents and ultimately found all of the challenged claims to be invalid over the prior art presented by Hospira.

Genentech’s briefs assert “the retroactive application of inter partes review to a patent issued before that procedure existed is unconstitutional, a taking without just compensation and a denial of due process,” in violation of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

The Federal Circuit has now certified Genentech’s constitutional challenges to the U.S. Attorney General, who has been directed to inform the Court whether the United States intends to intervene in the appeals within 30 days.

Genentech’s position may seem like a “Hail Mary pass” effort to save its patents, especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, No. 16-712, 138 S. Ct. 1365 (2018) (“Oil States”), where the Court rejected the patent owner’s argument that revoking patent claims as a result of an IPR proceeding is unconstitutional under Article III and the Seventh Amendment.

In the Oil States case, the Court held that the decision to grant a patent is a matter involving public rights and, hence, a challenge to a patent’s validity need not be heard exclusively in an Article III federal court and does not require a jury trial.  (For our detailed analysis of the Oil States decision, click here.)

However, Genentech’s arguments are based on the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition on taking private property for public use without just compensation by a process that did not exist when the property rights were granted. The author of the Oil States decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, emphasized the narrowness of the holding in the Oil States case and made it clear that the case addresses “only the precise constitutional challenges . . . raised here.” Oil States at 1369.
Continue Reading Attorney General’s Office May Weigh In on Constitutionality of IPRs involving Pre-AIA Patents

In an inter partes review proceeding, a challenger cannot raise patent-eligibility as a ground of invalidity.  Rather, the invalidity grounds are limited to lack of novelty and obviousness.  Notwithstanding, in construing claim terms, the PTAB can decide not to give patentable weight to certain claim limitations that are not patent-eligible. In Praxair Distribution., Inc. v. Mallinckrodt Hospital Products IP Ltd., No. 2016-2616, 2016-2656 (Fed. Cir. May 16, 2018) the PTAB had employed the so-called “printed matter doctrine” not to give patentable weight to certain limitations as merely “providing information”  and the CAFC affirmed the PTAB’s claim construction.

Mallinckrodt is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 8,846,112, which is directed to methods of distributing nitric oxide gas cylinders for pharmaceutical applications.

Claim 1 recites a method of providing pharmaceutically acceptable nitric oxide gas, which includes obtaining a cylinder containing compressed nitric oxide gas, supplying the cylinder to a medical provider who is responsible for treating neonates who have hypoxic respiratory failure, including some who do not have left ventricular dysfunction. Claim 1 further includes the step of providing to the medical provider “(i) information that a recommended dose of inhaled nitric oxide gas for treatment of neonates with hypoxic respiratory failure is 20 ppm nitric oxide and (ii) information that, in patients with preexisting left ventricular dysfunction, inhaled nitric oxide may increase pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP), leading to pulmonary edema, the information of (ii) being sufficient to cause a medical provider considering inhaled nitric oxide treatment for a plurality of neonatal patients who (a) are suffering from a condition for which inhaled nitric oxide is indicated, and (b) have pre-existing left ventricular dysfunction, to elect to avoid treating one or more of the plurality of patients with inhaled nitric oxide in order to avoid putting the one or more patients at risk of pulmonary edema.”

Independent claim 7 includes a “recommendation that, if pulmonary edema occurs in a patient who has pre-existing [LVD] and is treated with inhaled nitric oxide, the treatment with inhaled nitric oxide should be discontinued” (the “recommendation” limitation). Claim 9 depends on claim 7 and further comprises the following steps: performing at least one diagnostic process to identify a neonatal patient who has hypoxic respiratory failure and is a candidate for inhaled nitric oxide treatment; determining prior to treatment with inhaled nitric oxide that the neonatal patient has pre-existing left ventricular dysfunction; treating the neonatal patient with 20 ppm inhaled nitric oxide, whereupon the neonatal patient experiences pulmonary edema; and in accordance with the recommendation of [claim 7], discontinuing the treatment with inhaled nitric oxide due to the neonatal patient’s pulmonary edema. Id.

The Board applied the printed matter doctrine to interpret the providing information, evaluating, and recommendation claim limitations “to be either printed matter or purely mental steps not entitled to patentable weight, as those limitations lacked a functional relationship to the other claim limitations except in claim 9.” In particular, the PTAB was not persuaded by Mallinckrodt’s argument that the recitation of “a pharmaceutically acceptable nitric oxide gas” in the preamble of the claims would require considering information provided in the label of the supplied product.  Rather, the PTAB construed this limitation as simply “nitric oxide gas that is suitable for pharmaceutical use.”
Continue Reading CAFC Affirms PTAB’s Decision That Printed Matter Doctrine Can Be Used In Claim Construction

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week in SAS Institute v. Iancu has upended a major provision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) regulations for inter partes and post grant review proceedings conducted by its Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).  By concluding in a 5-4 decision that the agency lacks the authority