Featured / Symposia

Online Symposium: A Former Insider’s Reflections on the USPTO, the PTAB, and the Arthrex Decision

Guest Post by Dr. Christal Sheppard

I am a patent law expert. However, a look at recent machinations in patent law, particularly in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) leadership and the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB), reveals that many of the issues at the heart of patent law disputes stem from the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), administrative law, constitutional law, and, of course, politics, politics, politics. As a patent expert, I have found myself talking about the APA so often that I unconsciously write Administrative Patent Act by mistake. The United States Supreme Court decision in Arthrex, regarding the composition of PTAB, is the most recent foray into the intersection of administrative law and patent law.1

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Featured / Symposia

Online Symposium: The PTAB, The Director, and The Federal Circuit

Guest Post by Jason Rantanen

In its 2021 Arthrex decision, the Supreme Court rewrote the procedural process that Congress created for reviewing decisions by Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges.1 Rather than directly appealing to the Federal Circuit (or filing an action in the Eastern District of Virginia), a party that is dissatisfied with the outcome at the PTAB can petition the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the Director) for rehearing.2 This post summarizes some of my thoughts on the effects of Arthrex on PTAB decision-making, especially when PTAB decisions are appealed to the Federal Circuit. Overall, I’m skeptical that Arthrex presents a great opportunity for the Director to engage in patent policymaking. Given the way that United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) review is structured, there’s relatively little room for the Director to engage in policy-shaping through review of PTAB decisions. There are many other ways in which the Director can influence patent policy, and these are likely to be more promising paths than exercising direct oversight over individual PTAB decisions.

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Featured / Symposia

Online Symposium: Arthrex and the Politics of Patents

Guest Post by Tejas N. Narechania*

The Supreme Court’s decision in Arthrex is the latest in a growing set of decisions regarding administrative patent law. A close look at this entire series suggests that Arthrex is a culmination of a subtle shift in the Court’s approach to such cases. Where the Court once lauded the Patent Office’s expertise, the Court’s more recent decisions have emphasized flexibility and political accountability in patent decision-making. This development is both significant and salutary. For one, it marks the ongoing maturation of administrative patent law as one branch of administrative law, subject to the influences of the myriad administrative law values beyond expertise. This shift, moreover, is constructive, subjecting innovation- and access-governing principles to more democratic constraints.

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News

Recent News on the Federal Circuit

CAFC Affirms Improper Venue Ruling in Victoria’s Secrets’ Favor – On IPWatchDog, Matthew Schutte posted an article reporting on a Federal Circuit decision to affirm the grant of a motion to dismiss a patent infringement suit based on improper venue.

Judge Albright will Keep the Google and Apple Cases – In a post on PatentlyO.com, Dennis Crouch offers his thoughts on the Federal Circuit’s recent decision not to order Judge Albright to transfer certain patent cases.

Arthrex-Based TTAB Challenge Meets Dubious Federal Circuit Panel – Kyle Jahner reports for Bloomberg that “[a] piano company trying to revive its trademark encountered a Federal Circuit skeptical of its argument.”

Shell, ARCO, Texaco, Unocal Win $100 Million WWII Cleanup Appeal – In this article on BloombergLaw.com, Daniel Seiden reports on the Federal Circuit’s ruling in Shell Oil Co. v. United States.

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News

Recent News on the Federal Circuit

The Arthrex Fix Is No Fix At All – In an article posted on iam-media.com, Paul Morinville reports that “[t]he long-awaited SCOTUS Arthrex decision does not provide the solution to the problem at the heart of the case.”

Texas Court Bounces Triller/TikTok Patent Dispute to California – Chris Cooke wrote an article on completemusicupdate.com reporting about how a Texas district judge sent a patent case between Triller and TikTok to the courts in California, perhaps due to criticism by the Federal Circuit.

Are 5% of All U.S. Issued Patents Presumed to Be Unenforceable Under Laches Due to Their Priority Claims? – On IPWatchDog.com, Kate Gaudry reports on the “potential impacts” of the recent Federal Circuit case Hyatt v Hirshfeld concerning prosecution laches.

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News

Recent News on the Federal Circuit

Recent Federal Circuit Developments in Patent Licensing – On PharmExec.com, Johnathan Harris, Heather Brady, and Drew Hiller have written an article concerning the Federal Circuit and “recent legal developments [that] can help companies avoid infringement.”

Federal Circuit: ‘Patentees Need Not Prove Their Case at the Pleading Stage’ – In her article on LawStreetMedia.com, Christina Tobacco wrote about an opinion recently issued by the Federal Circuit where the court “considered the stringency of pleading requirements in patent infringement cases.”

SCOTUS Decides Arthrex: Much Ado about Inter Partes Reviews – Aziz Burgy posted an article on BloombergLaw.com about the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Arthrex.

Court Ruling May Let Veterans Access Both Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits – Patricia Kime reported on Military.com about the Federal Circuit’s decision in Rudisill v. McDonough and how it “could require the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay veterans an additional year of education benefits under both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.”

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News / Supreme Court Activity

Recent News on the Federal Circuit

This week and last the Supreme Court decided United States v. Arthrex, Inc. and Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc., two patent cases appealed from the Federal Circuit. Here is a report on recent articles and blog posts related to these cases.

USPTO Provides Guidance on Director Review Process Under Arthrex – On IPWatchDog, Eileen McDermott and Steve Brachmann write about how after the Arthrex decision the Patent and Trademark Office announced that it would implement the Supreme Court’s remedy using an interim rule that gives the Acting Director the authority to consider requests for reconsideration of final decisions made by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

What Will Arthrex Review Look Like? – Bradley Roush and George E. Quillin posted an article on the National Law Review raising questions many are having about how the Patent and Trademark Office will implement the new Director-led review process.

Justices Uphold a Narrow Version of Patent Assignor Estoppel – On SCOTUSBlog, Eric M. Fraser discusses how the Supreme Court reached its decision in Minerva narrowing the doctrine of assignor estoppel.

Professor Kagan v. Professor Barrett, Round 1 of N – On the Volokh Conspiracy, Josh Blackman posts about how in the Minerva case “two former professors were on opposite sides of the docket.”

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Supreme Court Activity

Recent Supreme Court Activity

Here is an update on recent activity at the Supreme Court in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. As for granted cases, this week the Court decided Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc., in which the Court overturned the Federal Circuit’s approach to the assignor estoppel doctrine. Additionally, three cases were granted, vacated, and remanded based on the decision in United States v. Arthrex, Inc. regarding application of the Appointments Clause to administrative patent judges. As for petition cases:

Here are the details.

  • a reply brief was submitted in support of a petition in a government contract case;
  • the government filed a waiver of right to respond in a patent case;
  • the Court dismissed one petition; and
  • the Court denied five petitions, including four regarding application of the Appointments Clause to administrative patent judges.
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Opinions / Supreme Court Activity

Opinion Summary – United States v. Arthrex, Inc.

This past Monday, June 21, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Arthrex, Inc., Smith & Nephew, Inc. v. Arthrex, Inc., and Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. By a vote of five to four, the Court concluded that the statutory authority conferred upon the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to issue final decisions on behalf of the Executive Branch in inter partes review proceedings violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause because the PTAB’s Administrative Patent Judges are not nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Given this violation, the Court voted seven to two to sever the unconstitutional portion of the patent statute, giving the Director of the Patent and Trademark Office, who is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the power to review the PTAB’s decisions. Here is a summary of the Court’s opinions.

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News

Recent News on the Federal Circuit

Justices Craft Their Own Remedy for Violation of Constitution’s Appointments Clause – George Quillin and Jeanne Gills post to SCOTUSblog about the Supreme Court’s decision this week in United States v. Arthrex.

Yu v. Apple Settles It: The CAFC is Suffering from a Prolonged Version of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome – Gene Quinn reports on IPWatchDog that “the Federal Circuit seems to be dealing with an exceptionally prolonged and worsening version of Alice in Wonderland syndrome.”

Amarin Rebuffed in High Court Bid to Revive Vascepa Patents – Susan Decker and Greg Stohr report for Bloomberg that the Supreme Court “declined to consider a bid by Amarin Corp. to revive six patents on the heart medicine Vascepa.”

Supreme Court Rebuffs Cost-Sharing Reduction Payment Appeal; $20 Million For State-Based Marketplaces – On HealthAffairs.org, Katie Keith notes “that two August decisions by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will stand.”

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