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The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Grants an Unopposed Motion to Amend in an Inter Partes Review

June 10, 2014

Azy Deal

In International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. v. United States, Case 2013-00124 (Paper No. 12) the Board granted the first motion to amend by adding new substitute claims in an inter partes review.  The Patent Owner only filed a Motion to Amend which was unopposed by the Petitioner. 

As this is one of the first motions where new claims have been added in an inter partes review, it is noteworthy to see how the Patent Owner satisfied the conditions required to add or substitute new claims.  First, the Patent Owner only added features to the substitute claims and did not remove any limitations, thus satisfying the rule that the claims may not enlarge the scope of the original claims.  See 35 U.S.C. 316(d)(3) and 37 C.F.R. 42.121(a)(2)(ii).  Additionally, the Patent Owner identified support for the subject matter in “as filed version” of the application.  In order to comply with the 15 page limit for motion to amend, a brief one paragraph description of the written description support was presented, with specification citations shown as an exhibit to the Motion.

The biggest challenge in a motion to amend is demonstrating patentability of the proposed claims over the prior art in general.  The Board reiterated its decision in Idle Free Sys., Inc. v. Bergstrom, Inc. IPR2012-00027 (Paper No. 66) that patent owner should discuss as well as present evidence as to the level of ordinary skill in the art and what was known regarding the features being relied upon to demonstrate patentability of the proposed claims.  In International Flavor, the Patent Owner satisfied this requirement by demonstrating the patentability of the “apparent” closest art discussed in the Petition as well as demonstrating “the level of ordinary skill in the art and providing evidence regarding what would have been understood by the ordinary artisan as to those features being relied upon to demonstrate patentability of the proposed claims.”  See pg. 12 of Paper No. 12.

Of particular interest, the Patent Owner characterized the Behan reference used in the petition as the “apparent” closed prior art.  Noting this characterization appeared conclusory; the PTAB relied on additional evidence to establish general patentability.  In particular, the Patent Owner cited to several references showing that “small changes in structure can result in a compound with very different properties.”  Further, this position was bolstered by declaration testimony that a person of ordinary skill would not have expected that minor changes to the prior art would have resulted in the claimed features.  Again, as these statements were unopposed, the Patent Owner was successful in showing by preponderance of the evidence that certain of its claims were patentable over the prior art.

Associate

Azy Kokabi

Email: akokabi@sughrue.com

Azy Kokabi focuses her practice on patent infringement litigation in Federal Courts, with particular experience in Hatch-Waxman patent infringement litigations. Ms. Kokabi’s practice also involves patent office trials, with a particular emphasis on inter partes review. Ms. Kokabi, a registered patent attorney, has served as counsel in multiple interference proceedings and related matters, before the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Ms. Kokabi also prosecutes patent applications covering biotechnology and medical devices, and has been involved in a number of reexamination proceedings and reissue applications before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Prior to joining Sughrue Mion, Ms. Kokabi worked at a boutique law firm, where she focused on interference practice. She also served at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as an Examiner, where she was responsible for examining patent applications related to medical devices and surgical bandages and interned for the Honorable Judge Rader at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.