IRVINE, CALIF.—In 2019, the US Patent and Trademark Office experiences a 23 percent drop in validity challenges filed as compared to 2014-2018. The office received 1,321 validity challenge filings last year, compared to approximately 1,700 per year in the previous five years. In fact, the number of filings was at its lowest level. 

This may seem alarming to some, but Womble Bond Dickinson IP litigation attorney Brent Babcock said the drop is both intentional and for logical reasons. Babcock explores these issues in a new article published in the Daily Journal.

“Despite the drop in filings, the sky is not falling at the PTAB – the tribunal is alive and well and will continue to be an important venue for parties accused of patent infringement for years to come,” Babcock writes.

One factor in the PTAB filing decline is a decline in district court patent infringement cases – from 6,300+ in 2013 to less than 3,550 in 2019.

More importantly, the USPTO has implemented a number of changes “which are largely vied as more favorable to patent owners,” Babcock wrote. “Such changes include adopting a narrower patent claim construction standard that matches the one used in district courts; expanding the patent owner’s ability to amend its patent claims, making it easier for a patent owner to ‘save’ its patent with some (albeit narrower) claims; and adopting guidelines to reduce the number of multiple petitions challenging the same patent.”

Click here to read “The PTAB Downturn: Recalibration in an Evolving IP Environment” in the Daily Journal (subscription required).

Brent Babcock represents high-technology clients in every aspect of intellectual property disputes, focusing on federal district court litigation throughout the country, trials and post-grant patent proceedings before the USPTO's Patent Trial and Appeal Board and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings, including domestic and international arbitrations. His practice also includes pre-litigation counseling, pre-interference and post-grant proceeding consulting, and appellate briefing and oral argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.