Federal Circuit invites en banc review of broadening reissue jurisprudence
By Jeffery Habenicht – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg
In re Staats, No. 2010-1443 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 5, 2012)
The Federal Circuit reversed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences’ (“Board”) decision to reject Staats’s reissue application and remanded for further proceedings. The Board had rejected Staats’s continuing reissue application because it was filed outside of the two-year time limit imposed by 35 U.S.C. § 251 and was not sufficiently related to a previous broadening reissue application filed within the two-year limit. In re Staats, No. 2010-1443, slip op. at 5–6 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 5, 2012).
The Federal Circuit held that the Board’s decision was inconsistent with its predecessor court’s decision in In re Doll, which concluded the two-year time limit in § 251 only applied to the initial broadening reissue application — not to properly filed continuation applications. Id. at 9 (citing In re Doll, 419 F.2d 925 (C.C.P.A 1970)). The court rejected the PTO’s argument that Doll only applied if the continuation application was “related” to a reissue application filed within the two-year window. Id. The court stated that this type of test would be “unmanageable,” because, by definition, every claim must be different in scope than the other claims. Id. at 10. In so holding, the court relied almost exclusively on Doll. The court concluded that if the PTO wanted to overrule Doll it would have to petition for a rehearing en banc. Id. at 11.
IPBIZ summarizes the case. Patently-O provides an overview and analysis. PharmaPatents criticizes the court’s broad interpretation of § 251, arguing that it will result in “twenty years of uncertainty” and a resurgence of post-grant strategic maneuvering. Patents Post-Grant, however, argues that Staats will have little effect because relying on broadening reissue applications as a matter of course has its own inherent drawbacks. (more…)