Our panel will discuss the latest news and tactics regarding the complex interaction between post-grant proceedings at the PTAB and related district court actions. A substantial number of asserted patents are involved in such parallel proceedings.
The panelists will consider the high-stakes race to the courthouse in parallel proceedings. The law gives little guidance what happens when there is a conflict between decisions by the PTAB and by federal courts on patent validity. In May, for instance, a Texas federal judge ordered Ion Geophysical to pay $21 million to Schlumberger in a patent infringement case, despite a ruling from the PTAB invalidating the underlying patent claims. “The PTAB’s final written decisions are currently no more than nonfinal agency determinations, subject to appeal,” the judge wrote. But in Fresenius v. Baxter (2013), the Federal Circuit decided that a USPTO reexamination decision invalidating a patent trumps prior decisions by both the District Court and the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit reasoned that the earlier validity decisions did not count for res judicata purposes because it did not conclude the case as a whole. The Federal Circuit was sharply divided in its Fresenius decision and declined to reconsider the holding en banc in a divided opinion, raising questions about whether a differently composed panel will reach the same outcome.
Gary Frischling, Irell & Manella LLP
Michael Florey, Fish & Richardson, PC
Neil Sirota, Baker Botts LLP