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posted by janrinok on Wednesday April 25 2018, @11:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the now,-let's-look-at-some-of-those-dodgy-claims dept.

World IP Review reports

Inter partes reviews (IPRs) do not violate the US Constitution and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has authority to invalidate patents.

This is the holding of the US Supreme Court, which handed down its decision in Oil States Energy Services v Greene's Energy Group today.

In June last year, the court granted[1] Oil States' petition for certiorari.

Oil States, a provider of services to oil and gas companies, had claimed that the IPR process at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) violates the right to a jury in an Article III court (a federal court established under Article III of the US Constitution).

The service provider added that although in certain situations non-Article III tribunals may exercise jurisdiction over disputes involving "public rights", this doesn't apply to IPRs because patents are private property rights.

The Supreme Court asked the government to weigh in--Noel Francisco, the acting solicitor general, submitted a brief[1] on behalf of the US government in October 2017.

"Consistent with longstanding practice, the Patent Act authorises USPTO examiners within the executive branch to determine in the first instance whether patents should be granted. That allocation of authority is clearly constitutional", he said.

Siding with the US government, in a 7-2 opinion, the Supreme Court rejected Oil States' argument and found that patents are "public" rights, not "private" in an IPR context.

"The primary distinction between IPR and the initial grant of a patent is that IPR occurs after the patent has issued. But that distinction does not make a difference here", said the court.

[1] Paywall after first article, apparently.

Also at Ars Technica.

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Virindi on Wednesday April 25 2018, @01:06PM (2 children)

    by Virindi (3484) on Wednesday April 25 2018, @01:06PM (#671606)

    Yes but.

    In legal terminology, a "right" is anything you may exercise under the law. A "right" can be created by statute, contract, or be natural. What you are talking about are "natural rights", which is a subset of "rights".

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  • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday April 25 2018, @02:27PM

    by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <> on Wednesday April 25 2018, @02:27PM (#671631) Homepage Journal

    Actually, legal rights are a subset of natural rights. Natural rights include any action you could possibly take or refrain from taking while legal rights are those that we have felt the need to spell out as something that other people should be barred from prohibiting you.

    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Arik on Wednesday April 25 2018, @03:44PM

    by Arik (4543) on Wednesday April 25 2018, @03:44PM (#671661) Journal
    A "right" is not "anything you may exercise." Privileges may be exercised as well, and that's what patents are - privileges established by Congress under constitutional authority, but privileges nonetheless.

    Congress can establish privileges and it can take away privileges.

    Rights are something different. They pre-exist the state both logically and historically. You can repeal all the various murder statutes but murder would still be unlawful for instance. Congress can pass laws that violate, for instance, the first amendment - but they are null and void, "as if they were never written" and completely unenforceable, according to prior precedent. Because Congress does not establish rights, it is only obliged to respect them.

    At least that's the theory on which our system was built. Interesting that not even the supremes themselves seem to remember, or is it care? anymore.
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