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US Supreme Court rejects new Intel challenge to federal patent policy

Post Time:2024-01-09 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a bid by Intel (INTC.O) and Edwards Lifesciences (EW.N) to revive part of their lawsuit challenging a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office policy that reduced the number of patents the federal agency reviews.

The justices turned away an appeal by the companies of a lower court's ruling dismissing their challenge. Intel and Edwards told the Supreme Court that letting that decision stand would give the office "free rein" to adopt standards that "undermine the patent system with no judicial oversight."

The Supreme Court has also rejected previous requests by Intel, Apple (AAPL.O) and Viatris-owned (VTRS.O) generic drugmaker Mylan to review the patent office's policy.

Representatives for Intel and the patent office declined to comment on the Monday decision. Representatives for Edwards did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board allows petitioners to challenge the validity of specific patents. The process, known as inter partes review, is often used by big tech companies that are frequently targeted with patent lawsuits to contest patents they are accused of infringing.

The office adopted an internal rule in 2020 that gave the board's judges greater discretion to deny petitions based on several factors, including whether a related court case is closer to trial.

Intel and Edwards challenged the rule along with Apple, Google (GOOGL.O) and Cisco (CSCO.O) in federal court in California. They argued that the policy violated federal law and undermined the role that inter partes review plays in "protecting a strong patent system." Apple, Google and Cisco were not part of the appeal acted upon on Monday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld part of a decision to dismiss the case last year, citing federal law and Supreme Court precedent to find that the board's decisions about whether to consider review petitions cannot be appealed.

The Federal Circuit reinstated part of Apple's challenge based on the office's failure to hold a public notice-and-comment period before implementing the rule.

Companies including Tesla, Honda, Comcast and Dell filed briefs at the appeals court in support of the plaintiffs.

Intel and Edwards asked the high court to find that the office's rule is subject to judicial review. The office, represented by U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, had urged the justices not to hear the appeal.

The case is Intel Corp v. Vidal, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 23-135.