USPTO Director Vidal issues key decisions regarding abuse of process in proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board
Two key decisions have been issued from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) this Thursday regarding abuse of process.
The first, Patent Quality Assurance, LLC, v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01229, Paper 102, is a precedential decision where the Director of the USPTO Kathi Vidal held that Petitioner Patent Quality Assurance (PQA) abused the Inter-Partes Review (IPR) process by using the proceeding for the purposes of extortion.
According to the decision, PQA failed to offer a verifiable, legitimate basis for filing its petition, which was filed only after a district court awarded large monetary damages keyed to the subject ‘373 patent. The Director identified that petitions unrelated to any pending litigation may raise concerns of petitioners who file “petitions, filed for the primary purpose of obtaining a cash settlement” from patent owners in order to settle and terminate the proceed.
The Director also found that PQA made material misrepresentations in order to ensure that another petition would be denied so that PQA’s petition, which was a replica of an earlier petition filed by Intel Corp., could proceed. The Director concluded that “To safeguard the proper functioning of the patent system, and the confidence therein, it is incumbent on me and the USPTO to protect against that harm.”
In a second, related decision, OpenSky Industries LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01064, Paper 121, the Director sanctions Petitioner OpenSky by precluding them from participating the proceeding based on their abuse of the IPR process in addition to sanctionable conduct including discovery misconduct, violation of an express order, and unethical conduct.
The standard applied to PQA and OpenSky was one of “compelling merits”. This requires that the petitioner present a compelling, meritorious challenge, which requires a “reasonable likelihood that the petitioner would prevail with respect to at least 1 of the claims challenged in the petition.” 35 U.S.C. §314(a).
Our team at Maier & Maier is proud of our success in both petitioning and defending IPRs and other cases in front of the Board.