Over the past seven years, inter partes review proceedings have become an increasingly popular tool with which to challenge the patentability of one or more claims of a patent. IPR proceedings are limited to patentability challenges based solely on novelty or obviousness grounds “only on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications.”
In turn, the term “printed publications” encompass a wide gamut of potential prior art, ranging from presentations and preparatory documents to academic theses, textbooks  and journal articles.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have repeatedly considered the question of whether a potential written document constitutes a printed publication and, given the varied nature of written documents, have developed a number of different factors to guide that determination. This article addresses the current state of law applied by the PTAB and Federal Circuit, including potential inconsistencies between those fora.
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