Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712

Patent (reexamination): Inter partes review: Art. III Court: Seventh Amendment:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, 35 U. S. C. §100 et seq., establishes a process called “inter partes review.” Under that process, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is authorized to reconsider and to cancel an issued patent claim in limited circumstances. In this case, we address whether inter partes review violates Article III or the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution. We hold that it violates neither.
Over the last several decades, Congress has created administrative processes that authorize the PTO to reconsider and cancel patent claims that were wrongly issued. In 1980, Congress established “ex parte reexamination,” which still exists today. See Act To Amend the Patent and Trademark Laws, 35 U. S. C. §301 et seq. Ex parte re- examination permits “any person at any time” to “file a request for reexamination.” §302. If the Director determines that there is “a substantial new question of patent-ability” for “any claim of the patent,” the PTO can reexamine the patent. §§303(a), 304. The reexamination process follows the same procedures as the initial exami-nation. §305.
In 1999, Congress added a procedure called “inter partes reexamination.” See American Inventors Protection Act, §§4601–4608, 113 Stat. 1501A–567 to 1501A–572. Under this procedure, any person could file a request for reexamination. 35 U. S. C. §311(a) (2006 ed.). The Director would determine if the request raised “a substantial new question of patentability affecting any claim of the patent” and, if so, commence a reexamination. §§312(a), 313 (2006 ed.). The reexamination would follow the general procedures for initial examination, but would allow the third-party requester and the patent owner to participate in a limited manner by filing responses and replies. §§314(a), (b) (2006 ed.). Inter partes reexamination was phased out when the America Invents Act went into effect in 2012. See §6, 125 Stat. 299–305.
The America Invents Act replaced inter partes reexamination with inter partes review, the procedure at issue here. See id., at 299. Any person other than the patent owner can file a petition for inter partes review. 35 U. S. C. §311(a) (2012 ed.). The petition can request cancellation of “1 or more claims of a patent” on the grounds that the claim fails the novelty or nonobviousness standards for patentability. §311(b). The challenges must be made “only on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications.” Ibid. If a petition is filed, the patent owner has the right to file a preliminary response explaining why inter partes review should not be instituted. §313.
Once inter partes review is instituted, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board—an adjudicatory body within the PTO created to conduct inter partes review—examines the patent’s validity. See 35 U. S. C. §§6, 316(c).
A party dissatisfied with the Board’s decision can seek judicial review in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. §319.

Secondary authorities: Lemley, Why Do Juries Decide If Patents Are Valid? 99 Va. L. Rev. 1673, 1682, 1685–1686, and n. 52 (2013).

(U.S.S.C., April 24, 2018, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712, J. Thomas)

La procédure dite "inter partes review" permet à un tiers, à des conditions limitées, de saisir le PTO d'une requête en reconsidération des revendications et en annulation partielle ou complète d'un brevet (35 U. S. C. §311(a) (2012 ed.)). Cette procédure n'est contraire ni à l'Art. III ni au Septième Amendement de la Constitution fédérale. Le tiers requérant peut invoquer que la solution technique n'est pas nouvelle, ou qu'elle est évidente. La décision rendue par le PTO peut être déférée devant la Cour d'appel pour le Circuit fédéral.
Une autre procédure, dite "ex parte reexamination" (35 U. S. C. §301 et seq.), permet également à un tiers de saisir le PTO d'une requête en reconsidération des revendications et en annulation partielle ou complète d'un brevet. La reconsidération suit les mêmes règles de procédure que celles applicables à l'examen initial.

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