The validity of a United States patent can be challenged in federal court litigation.  Patents can also be challenged in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which, in most cases, is a quicker and less costly process.

The PTO provides three procedures by which a patent can be challenged: inter partes review (IPR), post grant review (PGR), and ex parte reexamination.  In IPRs and PGRs, the challenger and the patent owner both participate, and the proceedings are handled by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).  In an ex parte reexamination, the challenger is not involved after the request for reexamination has been filed, and the proceeding is handled by the PTO examiners.

In IPRs and PGRs, anyone except the patent owner may file a petition to challenge the patent.  The filing fees are high, $41,500 for an IPR and $47,500 for a PGR, with additional fees depending on the number of claims challenged.  The proceedings are handled by a three-judge panel of administrative judges with technical background in the field of the patent.  There are two phases in these proceedings.  The first phase consists of the filing of the petition by the challenger, the filing of a response by the patent owner, and the decision whether to institute the IPR or PGR by the PTAB.  If the PTAB institutes the IPR or PGR, then the second phase (the trial phase) begins.  The second phase consists of discovery (more limited than in litigation), briefing, an oral hearing, and a final written decision by the panel.  The entire process from institution to the final decision should take no more than 12 months.  The parties may appeal the decision to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Continue Reading How to Challenge a Patent in the PTO

On March 16, 2021, U.S. Circuit Judge Evan J. Wallach for the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals announced he plans to take senior status on May 31, 2021.  This semi-retirement is set to create the first vacancy at the Federal Circuit in almost six years.  The Federal Circuit handles all appeals of patent cases from Districts Courts in the U.S., and appeals from various government agencies.  Thus, the Federal Circuit is the only one of the thirteen federal courts of appeal whose jurisdiction is determined entirely on the subject of the lawsuit it hears, rather than on the geographical location from which the appeal originated.  This means the Federal Circuit can hear appeals from every District Court in the United States as long as it has subject matter jurisdiction. The only court in the United States with more authority over patent related issues in the United States Supreme Court.

The Federal Circuit was the only federal court of appeals that did not have any vacancies during President Donald Trump’s administration.  In fact, President Trump nominated and succeeded in putting a judge in every other appellate court during his four years in office, including fifty-four judges on the federal appeals bench.  However, the Federal Circuit remained untouched, and in fact currently has eight Democratic-President appointed judges, and four Republican-President appointed Judges.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Set to Have First Vacancy in Six Years

The answer is “Yes” because the U.S. government has waived sovereign immunity for claims of patent infringement.  This means the U.S. government can be sued for patent infringement in at least some instances.  However, special rules and certain limitations apply as explained in 28 U.S.C. § 1498, which states, in part:

(a) Whenever an invention described in and covered by a patent of the United States is used or manufactured by or for the United States without license of the owner thereof or lawful right to use or manufacture the same, the owner’s remedy shall be by action against the United States in the United States Court of Federal Claims for the recovery of his reasonable and entire compensation for such use and manufacture.

As a result, patent infringement lawsuits against the United States government, are not brought in Federal district courts but rather in the Court of Federal Claims, which is a special court “authorized to hear primarily money claims founded upon the Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or contracts, express or implied in fact, with the United States.”  See https://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/.  Further, a patent owner cannot sue a federal contractor who made the allegedly infringing product or performed the allegedly infringing method, but instead, must sue the U.S. government.  Note, however, the U.S. government’s contract with the federal contractor may require the contractor to indemnify the government for liability and costs.
Continue Reading Can the U.S. Government Be Liable for Patent Infringement?

Join Josh Escovedo and Jessica Corpuz in this one-hour webinar about Intellectual Property Law and will specifically address The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

Program Summary:
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021—arising from the December 2020 stimulus bill—made significant changes to intellectual property law, unbeknownst to many practitioners. This webinar will focus on the changes

Is it possible to legally protect an idea?  The answer is: not really.

Intellectual property is intangible personal property.  There are four types of intellectual property that are protected by law:  patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.  A separate set of laws governs each one.  Although ideas may be intangible personal property, ideas do not