Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pre-Institution Settlement of IPR Precludes Joinder of Petition Time-Barred by 35 U.S.C. § 315(b)

The Board denied the petitioner's motion for leave to file a motion for joinder with a proceeding that settled one business day before the petitioner filed its petition in the instant proceeding. "Normally, a petition for inter partes review filed more than one year after the petitioner (or the petitioner’s real party-in interest or privy) is served with a complaint alleging infringement of the patent is barred. . . However, the one-year time bar does not apply to a request for joinder. . . This is an important consideration here, because [the petitioner] was served with a complaint asserting infringement of the [] patent more than one year before filing its petition. . . Thus, absent joinder of this proceeding with [another IPR], it appears that [the petitioner's] petition would be barred. . . The Board agrees with Patent Owner that [the petitioner] should not have delayed in filing its petition until after it learned of the settlement, allowing the one-year period under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) to lapse. By doing so, [the petitioner] took a risk that the inter partes review proceeding would terminate prior to a decision on institution . . . We do not find persuasive [the petitioner's] arguments of prejudice. [The petitioner] made a litigation choice, and now must face the consequences. Because [it] delayed its filing, and [the other IPR] has been terminated, the joinder statute’s prerequisite of an instituted review cannot be met. [Petitioner's] request for joinder is, therefore, denied."

Petition for Inter Partes Review by Fifth Third Bank, IPR2014-00244 (PTAB December 17, 2013, Order) (Giannetti, APJ)

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