Advanced Bionics LLC v. MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geräte GmbH
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PTAB Sets Double Standard for Qualifying Reference as “Printed Publication”

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) designated an appeal decision as precedential, holding that an examiner may apply a lower standard for establishing public availability of a prior art reference as compared to a petitioner in an inter partes review (IPR). Ex parte Grillo-López, Appeal No. 2018-006082 (USPTO Jan. 31, 2020) (Chang, APJ) (denying request for rehearing) (designated as precedential on April 7, 2020). The PTAB determined that the examiner had sufficiently established a prima facie case that a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) transcript qualified as a printed publication, even though the PTAB had previously found that a petitioner in an IPR proceeding had failed to qualify the same FDA transcript as a printed publication. The PTAB held that during prosecution, the examiner must establish only a prima facie case, and the burden then shifts to the applicant to come forward with rebuttal evidence to overcome the prima facie case. This differs from an IPR proceeding, where the petitioner must come forward with sufficient arguments to show, at the institution stage, a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on the unpatentability of the challenged claims.

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