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Supreme Court Accepts Certiorari as to Cuozzo

January 19, 2016

Overview

By Nika F. Aldrich

On Friday, the Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to review the Federal Circuit's opinion in In re Cuozzo Speed Techs, LLC, 778 F. 3d 1271 (Fed. Cir. 2015) rehearing en banc denied 793 F. 3d 1297 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (per curiam, 6-5).

Cuozzo owns a patent related to GPS systems. Garmin filed a petition for inter partes review based on certain combinations of prior art. The PTAB granted the petition, but, with respect to two of the patent claims, the PTAB's grant was based on certain combinations that were not identified by Garmin in its petition. In reviewing the claims, the PTAB elected to use the "broadest reasonable interpretation," the standard used by the Patent Office examiners when examining a patent application. Cuozzo had argued that the PTAB should use the plain and ordinary meaning of the claim term, consistent with the construction that would be used by courts during litigation.

On appeal, a split three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit held that it did not have jurisdiction to determine whether the PTAB exceeded its authority to review the two disputed claims. It also affirmed the use of the broadest reasonable interpretation. Cuozzo sought review by the full Federal Circuit court, which, in a divided 6-5 decision, declined to review the panel's decision.

The Supreme Court has now decided to review the case. The two questions presented for review are:

1. Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, in IPR proceedings, the Board may construe claims in an issued patent according to their broadest reasonable interpretation rather than their plain and ordinary meaning.

2. Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, even if the Board exceeds its statutory authority in instituting an IPR proceeding, the Board's decision whether to institute an IPR proceeding is judicially unreviewable.

The case is likely to be heard in the spring of 2016, with a decision issued in June.

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