Forum Selection Clause Held Inapplicable for Precluding Inter Partes Review Before the Patent and Trial Appeal Board

Confidentiality agreements or nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) are generally one of the first documents that in-house counsel require teams to execute when exploring licensing and/or research opportunities with third parties. NDAs are meant to protect the confidential information of one or both parties while each party determines whether the collaboration is worth pursuing. However, in a recent case in the Southern District of New York, one party tried to invoke a forum selection clause of an NDA to prevent the other party from challenging patents using inter partes review at the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

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Successful Use of Inter Partes Review to Cancel Claims Asserted in Parallel Litigation

By Vicki G. Norton, Siegfried J.W. Ruppert, and Michael Swit

In a trio of March 6, 2014 inter partes review (IPR) decisions, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) canceled patent claims related to next generation DNA sequencing technology, after Illumina, Inc. countered Columbia University’s patent infringement suit by successfully petitioning for IPR of claims in three of five of Columbia’s patents-in-suit.

The decisions illustrate the utility of the new IPR process before the PTAB, implemented under the America Invents Act (AIA), as a parallel venue in which patent litigation defendants can challenge the patentability of claims asserted against them in litigation, more expeditiously and less costly than in court proceedings.

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