Earlier this year, the USPTO released a set of ‘quick fixes‘ to AIA trial procedures before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and also promised second package of rule changes. That second package has now been detailed in the USPTO’s Proposed Rule Changes now found in the Federal Register. The proposed rules focus on a number of practical changes to PTAB Trial Procedures:
- Testimonial Evidence (Such as Expert Declarations) in Patent Owner’s Preliminary Response (to be considered but viewed in the light most favorable to the petitioner when determining whether to institute an inter partes review proceeding)
- Claim construction standards for patents about to expire (use actual construction for patents that “will expire” before final judgment rather than broadest-reasonable-interpretation)
- Rule-11 Requirement associated with all papers filed with the PTAB – giving the USPTO “a more robust means with which to police misconduct.”
In her blog-post on the topic, USPTO Director Michelle Lee indicated that the USPTO will also “amend its Office Patent Trial Practice Guide to reflect developments in practice before the Office concerning how the Office handles additional discovery, live testimony, and confidential information.”
As part of the process, Director Lee also offers a “where we stand” set of statistics for the past three years of AIA filings:
- 3,655 petitions, of which 3,277 are IPRs, 368 are CBMs, and 10 are PGRs.
- 63% focus on patents from electrical/computer technology centers (TCs) and only 9% in the the bio/pharma TC.
- Review Institution: Trials have been instituted on 1,389 of 3,277 IPR petitions, 185 of 368 CBM petitions, and 2 of 10 PGR petitions.
- Trial results: 12% of total claims available to be challenged (4,496 of 38,462), were determined by the PTAB to be unpatentable in a final written decision. Other claims were either not challenged, resolved by settlement, cancelled, or upheld as patentable. Of the first IPRs to reach a conclusion, 25% of claims actually challenged (4,496 of 17,675) were found to be unpatentable.
According to Director Lee, the number of petitions is “around three times more” than what were originally expected by Director Kappos.
These statistics fit with those discussed by Richard Bone in his recent post.
Comments on the proposed rules go to firstname.lastname@example.org and discussions will be held at the upcoming roadshows: August 24, 2015 in Santa Clara, August 26, 2015 in Dallas, and August 28, 2015 at USPTO HQ.