Patent Law

America Invents Act Again at Issue: Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee - Podcast

Intellectual Property Practice Group Podcast
Kristen Osenga June 21, 2016

On June 20, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee. In this case, the Supreme Court examined two provisions of the inter partes review, a proceeding created to provide a cost-effective alternative to litigation for resolving certain challenges to patent validity.

Cuozzo Speed Technologies (Cuozzo) owns a speed limit indicator patent. Garmin International (Garmin) petitioned the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) for inter partes review of Cuozzo’s patent. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the PTO agreed to reexamine claim 17, as requested by Garmin, as well as claims 10 and 14. After the inter partes review proceeding, the Board concluded that all three claims (10, 14, and 17) were invalid. Cuozzo appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, arguing that 1) the Board improperly instituted inter partes review of claims 10 and 14, because Garmin had not challenged these claims and 2) that the Board improperly used a claim construction standard set forth by PTO regulation calling for claim terms to be given their “broadest reasonable construction,” a standard that differs from that used in district court litigation (“ordinary meaning”). A divided Federal Circuit rejected both arguments, noting that 1) decisions to institute inter partes reviews are nonappealable by statute and 2) that the application of the broadest reasonable construction standard was a reasonable exercise of the PTO’s rulemaking authority. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to review both issues.

With respect to the appealability of decisions to institute inter partes review, the Supreme Court agreed with the Federal Circuit. 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) states “The determination by the Director [of the PTO] whether to institute an inter partes review under this section shall be final and non-appealable.” The statute means what it says. With respect to the claim construction standard, the Supreme Court also agreed with the Federal Circuit, holding that the PTO has the authority to issue and abide by its broadest reasonable construction regulation.

Our expert discussed the opinion of the Court, delivered by Justice Breyer, including the Supreme Court’s reasoning behind the holdings in Cuozzo Speed Technologies, as well as a concurrence authored by Justice Thomas and an opinion concurring-in-part and dissenting-in-part written by Justice Alito and joined by Justice Sotomayor.


  • Prof. Kristen Osenga, Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law

The American IP System

Short video featuring Adam Mossoff
Adam Mossoff June 15, 2016

Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, gives a brief overview of the United States' intellectual property system. He discusses the United States' innovative manner of treating patents and trademarks as property rights. He also explains how the United States has influenced many modern countries' approaches.

Patents: The Supreme Court Rules, Again - Podcast

Intellectual Property Practice Group Podcast
Kristen Osenga June 15, 2016

On June 13, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics and a consolidated case, Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer. In each of these patent infringement cases, a jury had found the accused infringer liable for infringing the patent, and having done so willfully. In the Halo case, the district court declined to award enhanced damages and the Federal Circuit affirmed. In the Stryker case, the district court awarded enhanced damages, but the Federal Circuit vacated that award. The Supreme Court took the cases to determine whether the Federal Circuit’s two-part test for enhanced damages was consistent with 35 U.S.C. § 284.

Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the court, vacating the Federal Circuit’s judgments in both cases because the appellate court’s test for enhanced damages did not permit the district court to exercise the discretion afforded by § 284. The Federal Circuit’s test, adopted in In re Seagate Technology, required first that a patent owner must prove “that the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent” and second, that the risk of infringement “was either known or so obvious that it should have been known to the accused infringer.” Both prongs of the test must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. In its opinion, the Supreme Court notes that the Seagate test properly reflects that enhanced damages are available only in egregious cases; however, the test is far too rigid to reflect the level of discretion afforded to the district courts.


  • Prof. Kristen Osenga, Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law

Are Patents Under Attack in the Supreme Court? - Event Audio/Video

Fourth Annual Executive Branch Review Conference
John F. Duffy, Michael R. Huston, Adam Mossoff, Jeffrey B. Wall, Randall R. Rader May 20, 2016

As Congress debates controversial patent legislation that some say will undermine patent rights, has the U.S. Supreme Court been steadily eroding the scope and enforceability of patents for the past decade?  The Supreme Court has made it easier to invalidate patents because an invention is “obvious,” not specific enough, or an “abstract idea.”   The Court has also made it more difficult for patent owners to stop or “enjoin” ongoing infringement of their rights and riskier to assert their rights in court. Is the Supreme Court striking the right balance or is it undermining an important property right?

This panel was presented during the Fourth Annual Executive Branch Review Conference on May 17, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.


  • Prof. John F. Duffy, Samuel H. McCoy II Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Mr. Michael R. Huston, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • Prof. Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law and Co-Director of Academic Programs and Senior Scholar, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
  • Mr. Jeff Wall, Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Moderator: Hon. Randall R. Rader, The George Washington University

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC