Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

Recently, in Purdue Pharma L.P. v. Collegium Pharmaceutical, Inc., the Federal Circuit held for the first time that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”) has the authority to issue a Final Written Decision even after the statutory deadline has passed.

Congress introduced post grant review (“PGR”) and inter partes review (“IPR”) in 2011 as part of the America Invents Act (AIA). Parties can use these processes to ask the Board to review the patentability of a patent’s claims. Under the AIA, the Board must provide a Final Written Decision within one year of instituting the PGR or IPR; this can be extended for good cause for an additional six months.

In an unprecedented PTAB decision involving Spectrum Solutions LLC (“Spectrum”) (Petitioner) and Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics (“Longhorn”) (Patent Owner), the Board found all five challenged patents invalid and imposed sanction against patent owner Longhorn for failure to meet the duty of candor and fair dealing. The board determined that Longhorn selectively disclosed testing results to support its claim construction and misled its technical expert with incomplete laboratory data, thereby failed to meet its duty of candor and fair dealing in its actions before the Board. The claims and substitute claims in all five patents asserted by Longhorn were unpatentable due to its sanctionable misconduct. Longhorn was also ordered to provide Spectrum compensatory expenses including attorney fees. On one hand, it is a reminder that duty of candor is a continuing obligation that cannot be ignored even during the IPR proceeding.  On the other hand, it does raise the question whether the PTAB has the authority to invalidate a patent for misconduct. 

On April 20, 2023, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced several proposed rule changes that would have an impact on patent applicants, patent holders, and patent challengers. A common thread running through several of the rule changes is the requirement of increased disclosure from litigating parties, including disclosures of related parties, ownership interests, and all settlement agreements (and any related or collateral agreements) between the parties. While the proposed rule changes are subject to a public comment period, if implemented, they would (i) introduce several major changes to the process of challenging patents before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and (ii.) significantly increase USPTO administrative fees.

Recently, in Google LLC v. Ikongoro Tech. LLC, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board” or “PTAB”) instituted inter partes review after it had previously denied the institution of such a review due to the pendency of related district court litigation in the Western District of Texas—a case which was subsequently transferred to the Northern District of California by the Federal Circuit granting mandamus relief.  The Board’s decision casts light on the interplay between the PTAB’s discretion to deny institution of inter partes review and the increased focus on transfers out of the Western District of Texas.

The Federal Circuit’s recent ruling in MaxPower Semiconductor Inc. et al v. Rohm Semiconductor USA, LLC highlights the interplay between the liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) authority as an agency tribunal having a broad role to protect the public interest in

In Apple v. Qualcomm, Federal Circuit Finds No Standing to Challenge Validity of a Few Patents When Many Were Licensed

The development timeline for small-molecule drugs and biologics is lengthy, estimated to take between 10 and 15 years. As a result, pharmaceutical companies need to consider freedom to operate issues long before they receive FDA approval or market their new product. These considerations might lead a company to take a license, seek to invalidate a competitor’s patent, or some combination of the two. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) is a popular venue for challenging patent validity and in 2020, Bio/Pharma and Chemical Patents accounted for 12% of petitions filed at the PTAB.

Recent Precedential Decisions Applying Fintiv

When a company is sued for patent infringement, often one early strategic consideration is whether to counterattack the patent’s validity at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in a parallel post-grant proceeding such as inter partes review (IPR) or post-grant review (PGR). Although the PTAB has recently conformed certain practices more closely to litigation—notably, its claim construction and indefiniteness standards—it remains a valuable venue for patent challengers seeking a relatively speedy, predictable, and cost-effective process.