The new Director of the USPTO, Andrei Iancu, was sworn in on February 23, 2018.  While it awaited new leadership at the USPTO, the patent community may have wondered what direction the USPTO was headed.  Nearly two months into his tenure, it seems clear that that Director Iancu is pro patent and favors a strong patent system the will promote the U.S. economy.

The U.S. Supreme Court continues to be active in patent cases.

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On April 24, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions in two patent cases specifically related to inter partes review (IPR) proceedings under the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011.

On May 9, 2018, the USPTO published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (83 Fed. Reg. 21221) regarding the claim construction standard used in AIA trials before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.  The proposed rules would change the claim construction standard from the broadest reasonable interpretation standard to a standard that is the same as that applied in federal district courts and International Trade Commission proceedings.

The Federal Circuit has now further applied the standing requirements set forth in the JTEKT decision.  In E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Archer Daniels Midland Company v. Synvina C.V. decided September 17, 2018 (Federal Circuit Docket No. 2017-1977), the Federal Circuit ruled that appellant DuPont did have standing to appeal a PTAB final decision.

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On November 1, 2017, the USPTO began the Expanded Collaborative Search Pilot Program (CSP), which is set to run until October 31, 2020.

The USPTO has issued a revised fee schedule which will go into effect on January 16, 2018.

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On October 29, 2018, the USPTO published a request for comments on proposed new procedures for motions to amend in AIA trials before the PTAB.

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The PTAB recently released Installment 4 of the Motion to Amend Study, with cumulative data through March 31, 2018, as well as an AIA Trial Practice Guide Update (August 2018 revision).

On June 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., a patent case involving the recovery of foreign lost profits damages.

The two year window for participating in the PCT Collaborative Search and Examination (CS&E) Pilot Program opened on July 1, 2018.  The PCT CS&E Pilot Program allows PCT applicants to obtain search and written opinion contributions from the five participating IP5 Offices during the international phase.

Recent cases include Arista Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc.; Texas Advanced Optoelectronic Solutions, Inc. v. Renesas Electronics America, Inc.​Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Illumina, Inc. ; and Cave Consulting Group, LLC v. OptumInsight, Inc.

On September 20, 2018, the PTAB issued revised Standard Operating Procedures (SOP1 and SOP2).  The revisions seek to increase the transparency of predictability of the Board.

On March 11, 2018, the United States Patent and Trademark Office unveiled a new cover design for the official physical copy of issued U.S. patents.

The USPTO has once again extended the After Final Consideration Pilot Program (AFCP 2.0) for another year, until September 30, 2019.  The Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) program has now been implemented on a permanent basis.

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On October 11, 2018, the USPTO issued a notice of final rulemaking that changes the claim construction standard for inter partes reviews, post-grant reviews, and covered business method patent proceedings (AIA trials) before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

On August 3, 2018, the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in JTEKT Corporation v. GKN Automotive Ltd.  The Federal Circuit found that the appellant JTEKT did not prove an injury sufficient to establish standing to bring an action in an Article III court.  Therefore, the Federal Circuit dismissed JTEKT’s appeal to the Federal Circuit of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s final written decision regarding claims 2 and 3 of U.S. Patent No. 8,215,440 in IPR2016-00046.