The Federal Bureaucracy Continues To Destroy Inventors’ Property Rights
Article from the Free Beacon by Charles Fain Lehman.
Bassam Abraham and Roman Chistyakov, two Boston-based engineers, in 2002 created a new technology for depositing metals at the micro scale. It had wide-ranging applications, from microchips to shaving razors. The two men, joining a longstanding American tradition stretching back to the signing of the Constitution, filed patents for their invention. Then their technology drew the attention of several massive, Fortune 500 companies, whom Abraham and Chistyakov would end up taking to court for allegations of patent infringement.
In response, those same Fortune 500 companies brought Abraham and Chistyakov’s patents in front of an entity called the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)—an “administrative law court” where a panel reviews challenges against patents previously issued by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). For just ten patents Abraham holds the PTAB received some 125 petitions, he said, challenging a total of 371 claims (patents are divided into “claims”). He noted that those same patents had been granted after review by six different examiners at the PTO.
“I never thought in a million years that we would lose all 371. I said, okay, maybe the patent office made mistakes on 50 percent of them. Let’s lose 150. And let’s see whatever we’re left with, whether or not there is infringement,” Abraham said.
Oil States, in addition to ruling on the constitutionality of the PTAB, will address the Board’s high rate of invalidating patents—more than 19,000 over its six years of existence. The Court also will examine the PTAB’s procedure, which one expert described as “stacked” against patent holders, and which the claimants in Oil States say runs afoul of the Seventh Amendment. Critics of the PTAB hope Oil States will help rein in what they believe to be an example of the administrative state’s excesses—one that damages American inventors’ property rights.
Read the entire article at the Free Beacon.