At the end of 2014, over 2000 IPR petitions had been filed, and over 100 decisions had been appealed to the Federal Circuit.  So far, IPR appeals far outnumber the few dozen USPTO appeals the Federal Circuit typically hears each year; the Federal Circuit’s first two decisions have affirmed PTAB holdings.  In its first post-IPR ruling, in January 2015, the Federal Circuit affirmed a PTAB decision to invalidate a patent in the case Hear-Wear Technologies v. K/S HIMPP.  Without explaining its reasoning, the Court upheld the PTAB’s decision to invalidate the patent as obvious over the prior art. 

In November 2014, the Federal Circuit heard oral argument in the first appeal of an IPR decision, In re Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC.  The Patent Office intervened in the case to oppose Cuozzo’s appeal.  The Cuozzo case concerned several IPR issues, including the claim construction standard the PTAB should apply.  In February 2015, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s claim construction, its obviousness determination, and its denial of Cuozzo’s motion to amend and substitute claims.  The Federal Circuit also held that it lacks jurisdiction to review the PTO’s decision to institute IPR.  Notably, the Federal Circuit confirmed that the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard is the correct claim construction standard to apply in IPRs.

The interplay between the PTAB and the Federal Circuit will continue to develop as more appeal rulings are issued, and litigants reference PTAB rulings in Federal Circuit cases.

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