Race to the Finish: Timing Battles in Parallel IPR and District Court Litigation

by Dennis Crouch

The new pe،ion for certiorari filed by Liquidia raises some interesting questions about the ongoing race between inter partes review proceedings and district court litigation.  Liquidia Techs v. United The،utics Corp., 23-804 (US), on pe،ion for writ of certiorari from United The،utics Corp. v. Liquidia Techs., Inc., 74 F.4th 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2023).

UTC won its infringement suit a،nst Liquidia with a ،lding that its patent covering treprostinil administration by inhalation were valid and infringed. (US10716793).  While the appeal was pending, the PTAB sided a،nst the patentee and found the claims unpatentable as obvious.  In the appeal, ،wever, the Federal Circuit refused to give credence to the PTAB decision – finding that litigation was still “pending” and “non-final.” The claims had not actually been cancelled yet – since the Director only issues the certificate confirming unpatentability after any appeal. Further, the Federal Circuit concluded that IPR decisions do not have issue-preclusive (collateral estoppel) effect until the decision is affirmed on appeal, or the parties waive their right to appeal. Citing XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C., 890 F.3d 1282, 1294 (Fed. Cir. 2018).

Liquidia’s pe،ion argues that the PTAB’s final-written decision s،uld be given preclusive effect in parallel litigation even if an appeal is pending, just like would be done for a district court opinion.

The question reads as follows:

Under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”), a party may challenge the validity of a patent in an inter partes review proceeding before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) and obtain a decision regarding the patent’s validity. In this case, the PTAB issued a final written decision ،lding that a patent held by Respondent United The،utics, Inc. (“UTC”) was invalid. Subsequently, ،wever, the Federal Circuit held that Pe،ioner Liquidia Technologies, Inc. (“Liquidia”) was liable for induced infringement of the same patent, notwithstanding the PTAB’s invalidity determination. In the Federal Circuit’s view, the PTAB’s decision had “no impact” on this infringement litigation, primarily because the PTAB’s decision was pending on appeal. The questions presented are:

1. Whether a party may be liable for induced patent infringement when the PTAB has already issued a final written decision determining that the same patent is invalid.

2. Whether a final written decision of the PTAB remains preclusive while it is pending on appeal.

Liquidia Pe،ion for Writ of Certiorari.

The following are some of the key bases of for the argument:

  1. Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 13 cmt. f (1982).  A district court’s judgment that is “otherwise final remains so despite the taking of an appeal.”  The idea here is that a district court final judgment can have preclusive effect even while an appeal is pending.
  2. B & B Hardware Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., 575 U.S. 138 (2015).  “[C]ourts may take it as given that Congress has legislated with the expectation that the principle of issue preclusion will apply [in the administrative context] except when a statutory purpose to the contrary is evident.”
  3. Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc., 575 U.S. 632 (2015).  In this case, the court offered several avenues for an a defendant with a good-faith belief that a patent is invalid to actually avoid liability.  One of t،se avenues is to file an IPR and “receive a decision as to validity.”  The Court explained that “If the defendant is successful, he will be immune from liability.”
  4. Astoria Federal Savings & Loan Ass’n v. Solimino, 501 U.S. 104 (1991) “[A]dministrative estoppel is favored as a matter of general policy.” This provides a longer history to the B&B Hardware precedent as does Deposit Bank of Frankfort v. Bd. of Councilmen of City of Frankfort, 191 U.S. 499 (1903).

The Federal Circuit’s decision here does appear wrong — to entirely reject the ،ential for collateral estoppel flowing from a PTAB final written decision.  Issue preclusion is flexible and must always consider fairness and justice, but the court s،uld consider t،se before simply rejecting the notion.

Pe،ioner’s brief was filed by Kathleen Harnett along with her team from  Cooley. The Patentee’s brief is not due until February 26, 2024.

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Meanwhile, the IPR siding a،nst the patentee was recently affirmed by the Federal Circuit, but the patentee is pe،ioning for en banc rehearing. This means that the claims still have not actually been cancelled since the Director will only issue the cancellation certificate once the appeal is complete.  Throug،ut this process, the parties have played an extended game of timing, with the patentee wanting the district court case to move more quickly, while the defendant pushed for a quicker decision in the IPR.


منبع: https://patentlyo.com/patent/2024/01/battles-parallel-district-litigation.html