February 11, 2016

Federal Circuit Explores Expert Declaration as IPR Supplemental Evidence

Getting caught up on a Federal Circuit decision from late last year, we take a look at the Federal Circuit’s decision in Redline Detection, LLC v. Star Environtech, Inc. (2015-1047), decided on December 31, 2015. In this case, the Court sent the strong message that petitioners must put their best foot forward right off the bat – submitting expert declarations with their petitions as part of their prima facie case and not later as supplemental evidence.

Petitioner Redline challenged Star’s patent 6,526,808 in IPR2013-00106. Redline did not file an expert declaration with its petition. Instead, Redline moved to submit the expert declaration as supplemental evidence under 37 CFR 42.123(a) after the PTAB instituted the IPR. The PTAB denied Redline’s motion and later decided that the challenged claims were not obvious. Redline appealed, and the Federal Circuit affirmed.

In the appeal, Redline principally argued that the PTAB should have granted its motion since it timely moved within one month of the institution decision and since the declaration was relevant to the instituted grounds as required by 37 CFR 42.123(a). The Court rejected Redline’s argument that timeliness and relevance automatically required the PTAB to grant Redline’s motion — movant has the burden of proving that it is entitled to the requested relief.

To that end, the Court agreed with the PTAB that Redline did not justify submission of the declaration after filing its petition and after the PTAB’s institution decision, and Redline failed to show why the declaration could not have been submitted with the petition. Instead, Redline admitted to the PTAB that it intentionally delayed filing the declaration since it was cost-effective for its expert to opine only on the instituted grounds rather than all the grounds alleged in the petition. The court noted that, while supplemental evidence may be submitted under 37 CFR 123, 37 CFR 42.104 requires the petitioner to identify in its petition each challenged claim, the statutory grounds on which it is challenged, how it is to be construed, and the relevance of the evidence to the challenge raised. As such, the Court agreed with the PTAB that Redline’s expert declaration was more than just supplemental evidence. Instead, it was evidence supporting Redline’s prima facie case and should have been submitted with the petition under 37 CFR 42.104.

Redline’s other arguments, related to construction of 37 CFR 42.123(a), also did not persuade the Court in view of the overall scheme of regulations promulgated in 37 CFR 42 subparts A and B. The court concurred with the PTAB’s decision in IPR2014-00561 that 37 CFR 42.123(a) is not a routine avenue to pursue, nor does the regulation require acceptance of, supplemental information. The court opined that requiring admission of supplemental information, which Redline’s expert declaration was not, so long as it was timely submitted and relevant to the proceeding would cut against the PTAB’s mandate and alter the intended purpose of IPR proceedings. Accordingly, the court affirmed the PTAB’s denial of Redline’s motion.

The takeaway is that petitioners must put forth their best case, including expert declarations, in their petitions.