In April 2015, Merchant & Gould (M&G) continued its success in the new arena of Inter Partes Review (IPR), with two more victories on behalf of client Dri-Steem Corporation. M&G successfully defeated—at the preliminary stage—defendants NEP, Inc.’s and Neptronic, Inc.’s IPR validity challenge. The United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) denied defendants’ petitions for IPR challenging the validity of two of Dri-Steem’s humidification patents. M&G’s detailed preliminary responses convinced the Board to completely deny the petitions finding that defendants failed to show a reasonable likelihood that any of the 36 challenged claims were invalid over the prior art. This reinforces the validity of Dri-Steem’s patents and is a significant win for the company.
Inter Partes Review is a means of challenging a patent that was created under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) signed into law by President Obama in 2011. As such, it is part of the most comprehensive reform to U.S. patent law in nearly 60 years. The intent of the AIA is to create faster issuance of high-quality patents, efficiently weed out low-quality patents and reduce costly litigation practices.
The gradual implementation of IPR over four years started in September 2012. As of April 2, 2015, there have been 2,705 petitions before the USPTO. They keep legal costs down because petitions are limited to 60 pages and are completed in 18 months from filing a petition to final written decision.
M&G has built a solid track record of IPR success. The Dri-Steem victory, led by M&G’s Tom Leach, follows closely on the heels of three significant IPR wins on behalf of Medtronic Inc. and others.