07/15/19

Predicting Institution Decisions in Inter Partes Review Proceedings

Yuh-Harn Yang, Pu-Jen Cheng, and Feng-Chi Chen

Inter partes review (IPR) was introduced in Year 2012 as an adversarial, post-grant patent review process. The principle of claim construction (broadest reasonable interpretation), standard of proving unpatentability (preponderance of evidence), and shortened time to final decision (18-24 months) have made IPR a popular venue for patent challengers. Institution of an IPR mounts substantial pressures on the patentee because the challenged claims are highly likely to be invalidated in the final decision. Therefore, a reliable model to predict institution decisions is critical for patent and business management. In this study, we construct three support vector machine (SVM) models separately based on the contexts of IPR proceedings and features of the disputed patents. The ensemble model that incorporated the three SVMs can predict institution decisions with 79% accuracy and 0.85 Area under the ROC Curve. Separately, the IPR context-based models perform better than the patent feature-based model. Interestingly, most of the features traditionally regarded important for patent values are not significantly associated with institution decisions. Furthermore, models trained on earlier IPR documents can accurately predict the institution decisions in later proceedings. The prediction accuracy increases with the accumulation of training data. In addition, our approach can identify IPR context features that may influence institution decisions. Our results can provide an empirical basis for IPR policy making and business strategic planning. 

07/08/19

The Good Faith, the Bad Faith and the Ugly

Katherine Hunziker

If a person1 has a federally registered trademark, that person enjoys all the rights and protections provided by the Lanham Act across the country, excluding areas in which another person was using the mark prior to federal application. A federal registration confers constructive notice of priority throughout the country beginning at the time of application. Thus, an owner of a registered trademark can enjoin any subsequent user from using that mark. An unregistered trademark owner, however, has common law rights to their mark, but only in the areas in which it is being used in commerce and known by the relevant public. As a result, the first to use the unregistered mark (the senior user) cannot claim priority over a subsequent remote use of the mark by another person (the junior user) who adopted the mark in good faith.

The issue addressed here arises when one or both of the users of the same or similar unregistered mark expand into one another’s territory. Of course, the senior user can not enjoin the junior user without first proving that he has a protectable mark and that the junior user’s use of the same or similar mark is likely to cause consumer confusion. Thus, once the junior and senior user expand, and their respective uses of the marks are likely to cause consumer confusion, the junior user can raise the affirmative defense provided by the Tea Rose-Rectanus doctrine. Once the junior user has established that she adopted the mark in good faith, the senior user may not oust the geographically remote junior user, regardless of the fact that the senior user was the first to adopt the mark. 

06/26/19

Preclusive Effect of the International Trade Commission’s Patent Decisions: Can District Courts Ignore Texas Instruments Inc. v. Cypress Semiconductor Corp.?

Emre Yuzak

Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, gives complainants a powerful remedy against unfair practices in import trade. It permits the United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”) to exclude certain items from importation, directing Customs and Border Patrol to deny their entry. Section 337, with its liberal grants of exclusion orders, attracts mainly intellectual property disputes, including several high-profile smartphone cases.

Litigants in section 337 cases may also bring their disputes to state or federal court, raising the question of what preclusive effect the ITC’s decision has. In Texas Instruments Inc. v. Cypress Semiconductor Corp., the Federal Circuit ruled that parties cannot rely on the ITC’s decision in patent cases to apply claim preclusion or issue preclusion in other cases. 

06/18/19

Taking Patent Rights: Sovereign Immunity & the Fourteenth Amendment in Patent Validity & Inventorship Challenges

Connor J. Hansen

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that “No State shall . . . deprive any person of . . . property without due process of law” and has been interpreted to incorporate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Collectively, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Takings Clause, prohibit a state from depriving property owners of all economically beneficial use of their property without providing compensation for that deprivation.

A patent “confers upon the patentee an exclusive property in the patented invention which cannot be appropriated or used by the government itself, without just compensation, any more that it can appropriate or use without compensation land which has been patented to a private purchaser.” Patent rights “fall squarely within both classical and judicial definitions of protectable property” that may be taken. This is largely because the right to exclude others concomitant with patent rights is “one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of rights that are commonly characterized as property.” When a sovereign owns an invalid patent or a patent to which it is not entitled, it has the right to exclude all others, even those who are the rightful owner of the patent or those who developed the prior art that would render the patent invalid, from practicing the claimed innovation. Other parties are also precluded from obtaining patent rights for the subject matter encompassed in the sovereign patent. The state has effectively appropriated from those parties the entire bundle of exclusionary rights conferred by a patent. 

05/28/19

The Likelihood of Exclusion: Economic Disparity in the United States Trademark System

Michael J. Choi

Trademarks are integral in the marketplace, serving as identifiers of the source of a business’s goods or services. Consumers rely on trademarks not only as source identifiers, but also as “quality guarantor[s] and consumer status symbol[s].” Entrepreneurs use trademarks to develop a brand and pursue opportunities for economic mobility. Although trademarks originally sprouted to protect consumers from fraud and counterfeit, the actual effects of modern trademark law severely overshadow these traditional purposes. Patterns in legislation and interpretations reveal a system of favoring the haves over the havenots, depriving have-nots of both offensive and defensive protections otherwise provided by trademark law.

The value of a trademark in modern day is the mark itself, rather than the brand it represents. Companies take just as much pride in their logos and brands as their actual products and services. As a personal property right, a trademark creates the duty to diligently manage and oversee these rights. However, overzealous trademark policing creates a hostile climate for the freedom of expression, the entrepreneurial spirit, and ultimately, a competitive and free-flowing marketplace. As a result, small businesses and other marginalized groups, often lacking the resources of large companies, are effectively excluded from the trademark system. 

05/20/19

Warning! Patent Agent Privilege Ends Abruptly

Matthew M. Welch

Say I have lost all faith in patents, judges, and everything related to patents. –Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison and many of the innovators following in his footsteps have been disgruntled and discouraged by United States patent law. However, patentintensive industries promote innovation, increase the GDP, and create millions of jobs. Patent law is vital to the continued prominence of America as a world power, and, to continue that prominence, patent law must adapt to current times. As a start, it must begin providing solutions to a number of problems plaguing the patent realm. One of the most outstanding problems currently running course through patent law is the dynamic between the attorney-client privilege and patent agents. The problem is two-fold. First, some courts have extended the privilege to patent agents, but the way they are treating this privilege is insufficient. Second, other courts are not recognizing the privilege whatsoever.

Attorney-client privilege is a pillar of the legal system that is entrenched throughout the United States. This privilege was instituted to allow full and frank discussions between clients and their attorneys. The purpose behind this was to allow attorneys to fully represent their clients based on all available facts. However, attorneys are not the only players in the field of patent law. In fact, one fourth of all patent practitioners are non-attorneys. These individuals are patent agents. 

05/15/19

BRUCE A. LEHMAN 1993-1998

Bruce A. Lehman was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on September 19, 1945. He received history and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and served as legal counsel to the Wisconsin state legislature before entering military service during the Vietnam War. He was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.  

Afterward he worked at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. He joined the staff of the House Judiciary Committee when it was considering a recommendation to impeach President Richard Nixon. In 1978 he was appointed chief counsel of the Judiciary subcommittee with jurisdiction over intellectual property issues. He then spent 10 years in private law practice in Washington, where he was active in civic affairs.

President Bill Clinton appointed Lehman assistant secretary of commerce and commissioner of patents and trademarks, and he entered service on August 11, 1993. He was the first openly gay man to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 

05/13/19

PTAB Practice Tips on Oral Arguments

James A. Worth

PTAB oral arguments provide an opportunity for parties to highlight select points from their written briefs and to answer questions from the panel hearing the case. Failing to answer questions from the panel is one of the quickest ways to lose credibility with the panel. This article sets forth certain considerations and practice tips for counsel appearing for arguments before the PTAB.

In particular, this article suggests that counsel refrain from relying on evidence not already of record or new theories of a case, that counsel prepare for a wide range of questions based on the record, and with respect to AIA hearings, that counsel may wish to take a flexible approach towards the use of slide presentations and exhibits. This article will address each suggestion in turn, and review some of the animating considerations. 

© 2000-2019, Journal of the Patent & Trademark Office Society
Disclaimer & Privacy Policy