Bozeman Financial LLC v. Federal Reserve Bank (Fed. Cir. 2020)
The Federal Circuit has denied Bozeman’s petition for en banc rehearing in this case – confirming the holding that the Federal Reserve Banks are permitted to petition the PTO for inter partes review proceedings despite the Supreme Court’s decision in Return Mail barring the US Postal Service (USPS) from taking such action.
The AIA indicates that any “person” other than the patentee can petition for inter partes review (IPR). However, in Return Mail, the Supreme Court held that the U.S. Gov’t does not qualify as a “person” under the statute and thus cannot files such petitions. Since USPS is a branch of the US Gov’t, its petition was improperly filed.
The distinction in Bozeman is that the Federal Reserve banks are not actually governmental institutions but rather a set of somewhat independent banks. Of course, the various Federal Reserve banks are substantially controlled by the Board of Governors, which is more appropriately termed a branch of the US Government.