by Dennis Crouch
Gopro v. 360heros, IPR2018-01754, 2019 WL 3992792 (PTAB Aug. 23, 2019) (U.S. patent 9,152,019)
In a new precedential decision, the PTAB Percedential Opinion Panel (POP) has reversed a prior institution decision in this case — holding “that service of a pleading asserting a claim alleging infringement triggers the one-year time period for a petitioner to file a petition under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b), even where the serving party lacks standing to sue or whether the pleading is otherwise deficient.”
The POP here consisted of Director Andrei Iancu; Commissioner Andrew Hirshfeld, and Chief Judge Scott Boalick. Robert Greenspoon represented the patent owner 360Heroes.
The basic facts: 360Heroes infringement claim was filed and served more than 1-year before GoPro’s IPR. However, the claim had a major defect — 360Heroes did not actually own the patent at the time. The district court eventually dismissed the case for lack of standing.
Holding: Following the Federal Circuit’s lead in Click-to-Call, the POP found Section 315(b) “plain and unambiguous,” finding that GoPro’s petition was time-barred and denying institution.
[T]he plain language of “served with a complaint” “does not contain any exceptions or exemptions,” “[n]or does it contain any indication that the application of § 315(b) is subject to any subsequent act or ruling.” Quoting Click-to-Call. . . .
We agree with, and follow, the Federal Circuit’s decision that “served with a complaint alleging infringement” in § 315(b) is plain and unambiguous, and means “presented with a complaint or delivered a complaint in a manner prescribed by law.” Id. And, given this clear articulation of “served with a complaint,” we see no gap in the statute’s language to fill or ambiguity to resolve. See SAS Inst. Inc. v. Iancu, 138 S. Ct. 1348 (2018). Thus, we determine that, if service of a pleading asserting infringement occurred “in a manner prescribed by law,” then the one-year time period for a petitioner to file a petition under § 315(b) is triggered on the date of service. The one-year time period is triggered regardless of whether the serving party lacked standing to sue or the pleading was otherwise deficient.
After fixing the formalities of its assignment, 360Heroes refiled its infringement lawsuit. D.Del Case No. 1:17-cv-1302. That case was stayed pending outcome of this IPR.
- The perhaps most important note here is that the Supreme Court will decide the Click-to-Call case next term on the question of whether the time-bar applies to complaints dismissed without prejudice. That decision will likely impact this case as well.
- Although the assignment to 360Heroes had not been formalized, that gap truly was a formality. Mike Kintner is listed inventor and thus original owner. Kintner is also CEO, founder, and sole-shareholder of 360Heroes.
- Language of the statute: “An inter partes review may not be instituted if the petition requesting the proceeding is filed more than 1 year after the date on which the petitioner, real party in interest, or privy of the petitioner is served with a complaint alleging infringement of the patent.”
- I simplified this for the brief above, but GoPro was the one that actually started the litigation with a TM/Copyright claim against 360Heroes as well as a declaratory judgment action of non-infringement of the ‘019 patent. 360Heroes then responded with the patent infringement counterclaim. The PTAB did not directly address wither the declaratory judgment action should also trigger the time-bar under 315(b).