1442.04 Litigation Involving Patent [R-08.2017]
37 CFR 1.178 Original patent; continuing duty of applicant.
- (b) In any reissue application before the Office, the applicant must call to the attention of the Office any prior or concurrent proceedings in which the patent (for which reissue is requested) is or was involved, such as interferences or trials before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, reissues, reexaminations, or litigations and the results of such proceedings (see also § 1.173(a)(1)).
Where the patent for which reissue is being sought is, or has been, involved in litigation, the applicant should bring the existence of such litigation to the attention of the Office. 37 CFR 1.178(b). This should be done at the time of, or shortly after, the applicant files the application, either in the reissue oath or declaration, or in a separate paper, preferably accompanying the application as filed. Litigation begun after filing of the reissue application also should be promptly brought to the attention of the Office. Additional proceedings that should be called to the attention of the Office include interferences and any pending trial before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, such as derivation, post-grant review, inter partes review, and covered business method proceedings.
Litigation encompasses any papers filed in the court or issued by the court. This may include, for example, motions, pleadings, and court decisions, as well as the results of such proceedings. When applicant notifies the Office of the existence of the litigation, enough information should be submitted so that the Office can reasonably evaluate the need for asking for further materials in the litigation. Note that the existence of supporting materials which may substantiate allegations of invalidity should, at least, be fully described, and preferably submitted. The Office is not interested in receiving voluminous litigation materials which are not relevant to the Office’s consideration of the reissue application. The status of the litigation should be updated in the reissue application as soon as significant events happen in the litigation. When a reissue application is filed, the examiner should determine whether the original patent has been adjudicated by a court. The decision(s) of the court, and also other papers in the suit, may provide information essential to the examination of the reissue. Examiners should inform the applicant of the duty to supply information as to litigation involving the patent. Form paragraph 14.11.01 may be used for this purpose. See MPEP § 1418.
Additionally, the patented file will contain notices of the filing and termination of infringement suits on the patent. Such notices are required by law to be filed by the clerks of the federal district courts. These notices do not indicate if there was an opinion by the court, nor whether a decision was published. Shepard’s Federal Citations and the cumulative digests of the United States Patents Quarterly, contain tables of patent numbers giving the citation of published decisions concerning the patent.
A litigation search should be requested by the examiner to determine whether the patent has been, or is, involved in litigation. For IFW reissue application files, the “Search Notes” box on the “Search Notes” form is annotated to indicate that the review was conducted, and the “Search Notes” form is then scanned into the reissue application file history.
Additional information or guidance as to making a litigation search may be obtained from the library of the Office of the Solicitor. Where papers are not otherwise conveniently obtainable, the applicant may be requested to supply copies of papers and records in suits, or the Office of the Solicitor may be requested to obtain them from the court. The information thus obtained should be carefully considered for its bearing on the proposed claims of the reissue, particularly when the reissue application was filed in view of the holding of a court.
If the examiner becomes aware of litigation involving the patent sought to be reissued during examination of the reissue application, and applicant has not made the details regarding that litigation of record in the reissue application, the examiner, in the next Office action, should inquire regarding the same. Form paragraph 14.06 may be used for such an inquiry. See MPEP § 1442.01.
If the additional details of the litigation appear to be material to patentability of the reissue application, the examiner may make such additional inquiries as necessary and appropriate.