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The America Invents Act (AIA) significantly affects the Constitutional separation of powers by creating a new inter partes review (IPR) regime for challenging an issued patent under an Article II Executive Branch entity, the Patent Trials and Appeals Board (PTAB). In practice, the PTAB has become an alternative forum for accused infringers to attack patent claims with less risk and expense than in U.S. federal district courts. Combined with the reluctance and sometime refusal of Article III courts (including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) to exert authority over final application of patent law, the statutory adjudicative powers given PTAB judges give rise to separation of powers issues.
As a result, patents that have successfully overcome validity challenges in a “final judgment” of a court are now subjected to double jeopardy in the PTAB, and those valuable but limited patent property rights can be challenged and taken away entirely within an Article II administrative forum. At least two cases pending cert before the U.S. Supreme Court challenge provisions of the AIA on separation of power bases (Cooper v. Lee and MCM Portfolio LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Co.), while another (Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee) challenging the differences between the PTAB’s and the courts’ claim construction regimes has already been decided. In Cuozzo, the Court upheld the PTAB/USPTO’s application of a different claim construction standard from the courts, tipping the scales against patentees who face a validity challenge during IPRs as compared against in federal district court. Critics of the AIA rules –and particularly IPRs– as applied by the USPTO/PTAB assert that they weaken patents and the patent system, and undermine the incentives for innovation that have driven economic growth for much of this country’s history. This teleforum will include a discussion of the Constitutional challenges to the AIA’s patent review provisions, including the Court’s hints in Cuozzo that it is aware of other Constitutional issues.
- Mr. Rob Greenspoon, Founding Member, Flachsbart & Greenspoon, LLC
- Prof. Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law and Co-Director of Academic Programs, Senior Scholar,Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Antonin Scalia School of Law, George Mason University
- Mr. Tejinder Singh, Partner, Goldstein & Russell
- Moderator: Mr. Trevor K. Copeland, Shareholder, Brinks Gilson and Lione