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Intellectual Property Litigation Patent Licensing and Transactions Patent Litigation United States Supreme Court

UPDATE: Did the Supreme Court's 'Arthrex’ Decision Open Pandora’s Box?

In June 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Arthrex that the statutory scheme appointing Patent Trial and Appeal Board administrative patent judges to adjudicate IPRs violates the appointments clause of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the Court concluded that because APJ decisions in IPR proceedings are not reviewable by a presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed officer, such determinations are not compatible with the powers of inferior officers. The PTO later decided that it would not accept requests for director review of institution decisions. This policy is now also being questioned in Arthrex’s wake.

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In June 2021, the Supreme Court issued its decision in U.S. v. Arthrex, Inc., Nos. 19-1434, 19-1452, 19-1458 (June 21, 2021) (slip opinion). Authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court ruled that the statutory scheme appointing Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) administrative patent judges (APJs) to adjudicate IPRs violates the appointments clause of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the Court concluded that because APJ decisions in IPR proceedings are not reviewable by a presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed officer, such determinations are not compatible with the powers of inferior officers.

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