The USPTO’s PTAB is very busy - and why it matters

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The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) was formed as part of the December 2014 America Invents Act (AIA).

The PTAB makes decisions on patentability after the initial patent examination.  Anyone can appeal an examiner’s decision on patentability or the rejection of claims.  Specifically, the PTAB deals with Inter Partes Disputes.  These include:

  • Inter Partes Review (IPR)
  • Post Grant Review (PGR)
  • Covered Business Method Review (CBM)

The PTAB also rules on Interferences (conflicting application priorities).

The CLAIMS Direct Legal Status XML container contains information on PTAB activity, as well as many other legal status events.  To find all patent documents that are involved in IPR reviews, one can search using the search term “lscode:IPR”.  The following legal status codes (lscode) are available:

  • CBM:  AIA TRIAL PROCEEDING FILED BEFORE PATENT TRIAL AND APPEAL BOARD: COVERED BUSINESS METHODS
  • DI:     ADVERSE DECISION IN INTERFERENCE
  • IPR:   AIA TRIAL PROCEEDING FILED BEFORE THE PATENT AND APPEAL BOARD: INTER PARTES REVIEW
  • PGR:   AIA TRIAL PROCEEDING FILED BEFORE THE PATENT AND APPEAL BOARD: POST-GRANT REVIEW

Using CLAIMS Direct, we can easily determine the following document counts.  These are the number of documents with PTAB related legal status events:

  • lscode:DI           1,727
  • lscode:CBM         374
  • lscode:IPR         3,175
  • lscode:PGR            13

IPR filings are the most common events.

Outcomes are not available through CLAIMS Direct.  However, once you determine that there is an event, it is easy to look it up on the USPTO’s PTAB web site.  Cases can be accessed on the Patent Review Processing System (PRPS).  Decisions are found on the Final Decision search page.  

Here is an example.  The CLAIMS Direct SOLR query “pnctry:US AND lscode:IPR”  returns all patents where IPR appeals have been filed.  A recent patent where a decision has been rendered is US-5652544-A - a Crest Audio patent for “Apparatus and method for programming an amplifier”.  The following legal status event is contained in the XML’s legal-status container:

<legal-event country="US" code="IPR" date="20131210" mxw-id="LS146200030">
  <legal-event-body>
    <event-title>
  AIA TRIAL PROCEEDING FILED BEFORE THE PATENT AND APPEAL BOARD: INTER PARTES REVIEW
    </event-title>
    <event-attributes>
      <event-attribute>
        <event-attribute-label>Effective Date</event-attribute-label>
        <event-attribute-value>20131107</event-attribute-value>
        <event-attribute-label>free format text</event-attribute-label>
        <event-attribute-value>TRIAL NO: IPR2014-00131</event-attribute-value>
        <event-attribute-label>opponent name</event-attribute-label>
        <event-attribute-value>QSC AUDIO PRODUCTS, LLC</event-attribute-value>
      </event-attribute>
    </event-attributes>
  </legal-event-body>
</legal-event>

The case number “IPR2014-00131” can be used to look up the case at the USPTO.  In this case, the following decision was made.

V. CONCLUSIONS

For the reasons set forth above, we are persuaded that Petitioner has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that:

1. claims 1–6, 9–13, 15, 19, 21, and 25 are unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 103 over Sudo and Krokstad;
2. claims 7, 24, and 26 are unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 103 over Sudo, Krokstad, and APA;
3. claim 8 is unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 103 over Sudo, Krokstad, and TMS320; and
4. claims 14 and 18 are unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 103 over Sudo, Krokstad, and Porambo;

We further conclude that claims 20 and 23 have not been shown to be unpatentable by a preponderance of the evidence. VI.

ORDER

Accordingly, it is

FURTHER ORDERED that claims 1–15, 18, 19, 21, and 24–26, of U.S. Patent 5,652,544 have been shown to be unpatentable;
FURTHER ORDERED that claims 20 and 23 of the ’544 patent have not been shown to be unpatentable; and
FURTHER ORDERED that because this is a Final Written Decision, parties to the proceeding seeking judicial review of the decision must comply with the notice and service requirements of 37 C.F.R. § 90.2.


So, this IPR has a substantial effect on the claims is US 5,652,544.

CLAIMS Direct developers supporting prior art and patentability searchers may choose not to expose this data.  But those providing valuation and patent strategy applications will want to note that this data is available – and that it is important. 

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