Granting Institution IPR2015-00100


Takeaway: The Board may decide that substantially the same references and arguments are not being presented in the petition as were presented to the Patent Office during prosecution because the arguments provided in the petition are in greater detail than those presented to the Patent Office.

In its Decision, the Board instituted inter partes review of all of the challenged claims (claims 1-6, 8, 14, 16-19, 24, and 25) of the ’361 Patent.  The ‘361 Patent describes systems and methods for managing databases and lifecycle workflows based on databases. Continue reading

Decision on Institution IPR2015-00196

Takeaway: The § 315(a)(1) bar does not apply to a complaint only alleging non-infringement, and the § 315(b) bar does not apply to a complaint filed in an administrative proceeding in front of the ITC.

In its Decision, the Board instituted review of all challenged claims (3, 4, and 6-14) of the ’121 Patent. The ’121 Patent generally relates to facilitating audio communications over computer networks. Continue reading

Granting Joinder and Instituting Review of Second Petition by Same Party IPR2015-00057

Takeaway: The Board can exercise discretion in granting a motion for joinder and may modify a schedule for a proceeding in response to Patent Owner’s argument that joinder may not permit adequate time for discovery.

In its Decision, the Board granted institution of inter partes review of claims 10, 17, and 18 of the ’550 patent. The Board granted Petitioner’s Motion for Joinder to join the instant proceeding with another proceeding filed by Petitioner, IPR2014-00513 (“the ’513 proceeding”). Continue reading

Granting-In-Part Institution CBM2015-00002

Takeaway: When considering whether a claim directed to an abstract idea is “meaningfully limited,” the Board looks to whether the claim contains more than mere field-of-use limitations, tangential references to technology, insignificant pre- or post-solution activity, ancillary data-gathering steps, or the like.

In its Decision, the Board instituted a covered business method patent review of claims 1, 5, 19, 20, and 27-31 (the “challenged claims”) of U.S. Patent No. 6,321,201 B1. The ’201 patent relates to protecting data against unauthorized access. The petition asserted eight separate grounds for invalidity for each of the challenged claims.

The Board began by considering Patent Owner’s request that it exercise its discretion to deny the Petition on the grounds that “it relies upon prior art and arguments that are the same or substantially the same as considered during the prosecution of the ’201 Patent, during the reexamination of the ’201 patent, during the prosecution of the ’281 Patent and in CBM2014-00024.” After reviewing the cited references and the files of the earlier proceedings, the Board decline to exercise its discretion to deny the Petition.

The Board then analyzed whether Petitioner had standing to seek a covered business method patent review. Specifically, it considered whether the patent “claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service” that is not a technological invention. Petitioner argued that the ’201 Patent claims “a method for performing data processing, including protecting against unauthorized access of data, such as in banking, that is at least incidental to the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service.” In response, Patent Owner asserted that “[t]he claims of the [’]201 Patent do not encompass activities that are ‘financial in nature, incidental to a financial activity or complementary to a financial activity.’” The Board was persuaded that:

at least one claim claims a method for performing data processing or other operations that are at least incidental or complementary to the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service. Claim 1 recites “controlling the user’s processing of the given data element value in conformity with the collected protection attribute/attributes.” The Specification discloses that protection attributes are used to protect against unauthorized access of a data portion in a database (see Ex. 1001, col. 4, ll. 26–32) and that banking is a field where protection against unauthorized access to databases that are used for administering and storing sensitive information is desired.

Because “[b]anking is a financial activity,” the Board determined that Petitioner had satisfied the first element of the test.

The Board then considered whether the ’201 patent is directed to a technological invention and concluded that it is not, in part because claim 1 “does not recite a technological feature that is novel or unobvious over the prior art.” Instead, it “recites a method that is ‘storing’ data in multiple ‘databases,’ and controlling a user’s processing ‘in conformity with the collected protection attribute/attributes.’” The Board noted that “[d]ata processing computers having databases, which store the data, and controlling access thereto, were known at the time of filing the ’201 Patent.

Turning to the substantive issues of the proceeding, the Board began with claim construction. The Board adopted Petitioner’s proposed construction of “data processing rules” as “rules for processing data” and rejected Patent Owner’s proposed construction as “overly narrow” and attempting “to import the limitations…from the Specification…into the claim.”

The Board then considered and rejected Patent Owner’s argument that “§ 101 is not available to challenge patentability in a covered business method patent review, because it is not included in 35 U.S.C. §§ 282(b)(2) or (3).” The Board explained:

Under the AIA, any ground that could be raised under §§ 282(b)(2) or (3) can be raised in a post-grant review or (with exceptions not relevant here) in a covered business method patent review. The final rules implementing post-grant review and covered business method patent review in the Federal Register state that the “grounds available for post-grant review include 35 U.S.C. [§§] 101 and 112, with the exception of compliance with the best mode requirement.” 77 Fed. Reg. 48,680, 48,682 (Aug. 14, 2012).

Next, the Board analyzed whether the challenged claims directed to patent eligible subject matter under § 101. Applying the framework of Alice Corp. Pty, Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014), the Board determined that the challenged claims are “directed to the abstract idea of determining whether access to a given data element value in a database should be granted based on whether one or more rules are satisfied,” do not include “meaningful limitations that can salvage [them] and make them patent eligible,” and “require nothing more than the routine and conventional use of a computer, having a database containing objects, and a database containing attributes associated with those objects, and a processor.” The Board explained that “[t]o be limited meaningfully, the claim must contain more than mere field-of-use limitations, tangential references to technology, insignificant pre- or post-solution activity, ancillary data-gathering steps, or the like.”

The Board then considered Petitioner’s arguments regarding alleged anticipation of the challenged claims, determining that each of the cited references did not disclose at least one of the claim limitations. Then, with respect to Petitioner’s proposed obviousness grounds, the Board noted that it had determined that each of the references does not describe certain limitations of the claims and concluded that Petitioner had not provided “any other evidence or rationale, specifically, as to why [these] certain limitations would have been obvious.” The Board explained that

Petitioner must identify and articulate clearly each prior art combination relied on to support an assertion of unpatentability based on obviousness. Neither Patent Owner nor the Board should have to speculate in any respect. There can be no avoidance of articulating the precise combination relied on to render a claim obvious. Petitioner’s approach of offering a plurality of prior art references for consideration, with the particular and necessary combination to be selected or chosen by the Board is improper.

Accordingly, the Board instituted a CBM patent review proceeding of the challenged claims only under § 101.

Epicor Software Corp. v. Protegrity Corp., CBM2015-00002
Paper 17: Decision on Institution of Covered Business Method Patent Review
Dated: April 22, 2015
Patent: 6,321,201 B1
Before: Kevin F. Turner, Meredith C. Petravick, and Gregg I. Anderson
Written by: Turner
Related Proceedings: Protegrity Corp. v. Epicor Software Corp., No. 3:13-cv-01781-JBA (D. Conn. Dec. 2, 2013); CBM2015-00014, CBM2015-00021, and CBM2015-00030; Reexamination No. 90/011,364

Denying Request for Rehearing CBM2014-00157

Takeaway: A request for rehearing is not an opportunity to reiterate arguments previously addressed in the Board’s Decision on Institution, and merely express disagreement.

In its Decision, the Board denied Patent Owner’s Request for Rehearing of the Decision to institute covered business method patent review of claims 1-21, 24-27, 29, 30, 32, 33, and 36-39 of the ’409 patent, and denied Patent Owner’s request for an expanded panel. Continue reading

Denying Institution for Not Adequately Explaining Correspondence of Prior Art to Claims IPR2015-00296

Takeaway: The Board may deny institution of a Petition in the case where neither the Petitioner nor its declarant adequately explains how the prior art disclosure of a particular “hardness” teaches the recitation in the claims of an “average hardness.”

In its Decision, Board denied a Petition that had sought inter partes review of claims 1-20 of the ’271 patent. Thus, the trial that Petitioner had requested with respect to the ’271 patent was not instituted. Continue reading

Granting Motion for Joinder IPR2015-00057

Takeaway: To support a conclusion of obviousness, all that is required is a showing of a reasonable expectation of success, not absolute predictability of success.

In its Decision, the Board found that Petitioner had established a reasonable likelihood of prevailing with respect to claim 10, but not with respect to claims 17 and 18. The Board also granted Petitioner’s Motion for Joinder with IPR2014-00513 (“the ’513 proceeding”). In addition to the ’513 proceeding, Petitioner challenged the ’550 patent in a Petition that was ultimately not instituted by the Board. IPR2014-00512 (“the ’512 Petition”). Continue reading

Granting Motion to File Supplemental Evidence and Request to Cross-Examine IPR2014-01385

Takeaway: Cross-examination of third-party witnesses should be narrowly tailored to minimize the burden on the third party.

In its Decision, the Board granted Petitioner’s request to file supplemental evidence as supplemental information and granted Patent Owner’s request to cross-examine a third-party declarant. Continue reading

Final Written Decision IPR2014-00073

Finding All Instituted Claims Unpatentable

Takeaway: Patent Owner was able to persuade the Board that features not specifically described in a priority document were necessarily comprehended in the description based, at least partly, on expert testimony that the described device in the priority document could not work without the alleged missing feature.

In its Final Written Decision, the Board held that Petitioner demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that all of the instituted claims, claims 21, 22, 24, 30, and 33-37, of the ’356 patent are unpatentable based on some, but not all, of the grounds upon which trial was instituted. The Petition also challenged claims 25 and 26, but no grounds on those claims were instituted. The ’356 patent generally relates to “methods and apparatuses for accessing a surgical target site, such as the lumbar spine, using minimally invasive techniques.” Continue reading

Denying Request for Rehearing IPR2014-00553

Takeaway: An argument raised by a patent owner in one proceeding could create a substantive difference between two related proceedings, and therefore, could also negate a finding that one of the two proceedings is redundant.

In its Decision, the Board denied Patent Owner’s request for rehearing by an expanded panel of the Board’s Decision to Institute inter partes review. Initially, the Board had denied institution on redundancy grounds in light of the IPR2014-00552 proceeding. In particular, the Petition in the instant proceeding was found to not “add substantively to the grounds on which [the Board] instituted inter partes review in the related proceeding.” However, on rehearing, the Board decided to institute trial and then denied Patent Owner’s Request for Rehearing. Continue reading