In re Aqua Products (Fed. Cir. 2016)
In a short opinion, the Federal Circuit has reaffirmed the USPTO’s tightly restrictive approach to amendment practice in Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings. Under the rules, a patentee has one opportunity to propose amendments or substitute claims. However, the motion to amend will only be granted if the patentee also demonstrates in the motion that the proposed amendments would make the claims patentable over the known prior art. See Idle Free Sys., Inc. v. Bergstrom, Inc., IPR2012–00027, 2013 WL 5947697 (PTAB June 11, 2013).
That approach has been upheld in several Federal Circuit cases, including Microsoft Corp. v. Proxyconn, Inc., 789 F.3d 1292, 1307−08 (Fed. Cir. 2015). As such, the panel here held that its power was restricted:
Given our precedent, this panel cannot revisit the question of whether the Board may require the patentee to demonstrate the patentability of substitute claims over the art of record.
As such, the Federal Circuit found no abuse of discretion in thte PTAB’s denial of amendment.
We conclude that the Board did not abuse its discretion by denying Aqua’s motion to amend. The Board rebutted Aqua’s sole argument that the vector limitation made the substitute claims patentable over the combination of Henkin and Myers. Because Aqua’s arguments with respect to that combination rested exclusively on the vector limitation, the Board had no obligation to address the other amendments or to consider the issue of objective indicia of non-obviousness, which Aqua did not raise in connection with the Henkin/Myers combination. We affirm.
The case is being handled by Finnegan’s top appellate lawyer James Barney and is now set-up for en banc review.