By Don Wang
In 2011 Congress enacted the Leahy-Smith American Invents Act (AIA), which established a new Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) within the Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) and instituted several new administrative proceedings to review certain issues of patentability. Ever since, patents before the Board have been perishing like Game of Throne wedding guests (or as Judge Rader puts it: PTAB are the “death squads killing property rights”). Unsurprisingly, unhappy patent owners seized their first possible opportunity to challenge various aspects of PTAB proceedings. This led to the Supreme Court hearing of Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, No. 15-446. The oral argument was conducted on April 25, 2016, and the transcript can be found here.
There are two questions on appeal, but the Court focuses almost exclusively on the first question: which claim construction standard should be used in a PTAB proceeding, the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard (BRI) or the “plain and ordinary meaning” standard? The BRI is the claim construction standard applied by PTO during a patent examination.