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Supreme Court Affirms that Secret Sales Are Still Prior Art, Can Bar Patenting, in Counter to Current USPTO Procedure

On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, the US Supreme Court held in Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. that the America Invents Act (“AIA”) did not narrow the scope of the on-sale bar in patent cases, and that prior “secret sales” of an invention may invalidate a patent on the invention. Emphasizing that prior to the enactment of the AIA the term “on sale” had a well-settled judicial interpretation that included confidential sales, the Court held that Congress’ inclusion of additional language in the AIA was not enough to evince a clear intent to change the scope of the on-sale bar for patents filed after the AIA was enacted.

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The Federal Circuit Reverses Long Standing PTAB Precedent on the IPR Time Bar Exception

Practices: Intellectual Property Litigation, Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) Proceedings

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On August 16, 2018, the Federal Circuit overruled the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) long-standing practice of accepting certain inter partes review (“IPR”) petitions outside of the one-year time bar window prescribed by Section 315(b) of Title 35. The PTAB has consistently held that, where the underlying district court action was dismissed without prejudice, service of the complaint does not trigger the one-year time bar. The Federal Circuit in Click-to-Call Techs., LP v. Ingenio, Inc. (opinion here) reversed and found that service of the complaint does trigger the one-year time bar, even if the action is later dismissed voluntarily without prejudice. Petitioners now have one year to file IPR petitions even if the underlying district court action is eventually voluntarily dismissed without prejudice.

We will continue to monitor further developments regarding the impact of these decisions. If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Scott McKeown.

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