The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) designated two decisions informative as they relate to weighing factors for determining how a parallel district court proceeding may impact the Board’s determination of whether to discretionarily deny institution under § 314(a).
In Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc., Case No. IPR2020-00019, Paper 15 (USPTO May 13, 2020) (Horner, APJ) (designated informative on July 13, 2020), the Board had previously requested supplemental briefing in a pre-institution order in this case (itself now designated by the Board as precedential) regarding six factors for weighing the impact of the parallel district court proceeding on whether to discretionarily deny institution.
As to factor (1), whether the district court action is stayed or evidence exists that a stay may be issued, the Board weighed this factor as neutral because neither party had requested a stay and the district court had given no indication as to whether it would entertain a stay. Absent definitive statements by the district court as to the specific case, the Board declined to infer how a judge might rule if a motion were to be filed.
Under factor (2), the proximity of the court’s trial date to the Board’s projected statutory deadline for a final written decision, the Board found this factor weighed slightly in favor of a discretionary denial. Even though the district court’s initial trial date had been pushed back, the new date was still two months earlier than the Board’s one-year deadline for issuing a final written decision. In addition, the new date appeared to be relatively certain, and mere speculation about the further delays being typical was not enough to weigh this factor in favor of a discretionary denial.
As to factor (3), the court’s and parties’ investment in the parallel proceeding, the Board found this weighed somewhat in favor of discretionary denial. Even though expert reports had not been served, the district court had already issued a detailed Markman order construing seven claim terms, and the parties had already served their final invalidity contentions.
Under factor (4), the extent of overlap of the issues raised in the petition compared to those raised in the parallel proceeding, the Board found this factor favored discretionary denial because the Petitioner was pursuing the same prior art on the same claims in district court.
Under factor (5), the parties in the district court action were the same as the IPR, so this factor weighed in favor of discretionary denial.
As to the catch-all factor (6), including considering the merits of the challenge, the Board found that there were key weaknesses in the petition that helped tip the scales toward discretionary denial. In sum, the Board found that the weight of the factors tipped toward exercising its discretion to deny institution.
In Sand Revolution II, LLC v. Continental Intermodal Group–Trucking LLC, Case No. IPR2019-01393, Paper 24 (USPTO June 16, 2020) (Flax, APJ) (designated informative on July 13, 2020), the Board came to slightly different conclusions for some of the factors, ultimately granting the Petitioner’s request [...]