Inter Partes Review (“IPR”) was first made available via the America Invents Act (AIA) on September 16, 2012 as a counterpart to Post Grant Review. Accordingly, IPR is a procedure in which a third party may challenge the validity of patent claims based on existing prior art. Since its enactment, early statistics demonstrate that a staggering 87% success rate for the Petitioners to institute a trial with the Patent & Trial Appeal Board (“PTAB”) against the Patent Owners in the first year and equally favorable 76% success rate in the second year.
In addition to the often discussed “first-to-file” provisions of the America Invents Act (“AIA”), the expanded scope of public materials which patent examiners can now cite as “prior art” (when evaluating whether a patent should be granted on an applicant’s invention) provides some additional motivation for filing U.S. patent applications with more urgency than in the past. For instance, public disclosures made anywhere in the world prior to the effective filing date of a new U.S. patent application can now, for the most part, be considered as prior art. By way of contrast, under the “old” laws, there was a one year grace period in which third party publications could potentially be exempt from citation if published no more than one year before the application filing date.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") has published its final rules for the implementation of certain provisions of U.S. patent law as reformed under the America Invents Act ("AIA") that become effective on September 16, 2012. As noted in previous blog posts, the AIA was passed last year to revamp the U.S. patent system in stages, with various provisions going into effect at different times. While some changes have already occurred, many significant changes will become effective on September 16, 2012, including the following: