On appeal of a PTAB decision that all claims in a patent on compressing video files were unpatentable, the Federal Circuit clarified two issues. This post considers the second addressed issue – is the PTAB limited to the arguments made by Petitioners? The Federal Circuit found that it is.
That is the gist of a recent decision by the court, which permitted an IPR Petitioner to use “general knowledge” to fill in missing claim limitations in certain circumstances, but also constrained the PTAB as to what grounds may serve as the basis for instituting trial.
Petitioners seeking IPR of a patent must make their case for unpatentability based on two types of prior art – patents and printed publications. However, in Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Google LLC (No. 2019-1177), the Federal Circuit held that those references can be used as evidence of the general knowledge, and need not be made part of a specific combination. Specifically, the court found that the Petitioner had properly alleged that although the primary reference relied upon did not disclose each and every element of the claimed invention, the differences between the claimed invention and that reference would have been obvious to a skilled person based on their general knowledge.
An IPR follow-on petitioner may find it particularly challenging to select the best prior art references and arguments to submit to the PTAB. To make matters worse, the PTAB may decide to invoke its discretionary denial under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) if it considers the prior art and/or arguments submitted in the follow-on petition to be the same or substantially the same as those considered during prosecution, in parallel proceedings, or in an earlier-filed IPR petition, even if the follow-on petition is filed by a different entity.
When challenging a patent through IPR, petitioners may be tempted to offer an improved version of an argument that had been offered by the examiner during prosecution, using similar prior art but shoring up potential shortcomings of what came before. However, three decisions that the Board recently designated as “informative” illustrate that a petitioner that isn’t careful when reusing arguments may not be successful.
Topics: Prior Art