In July 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw the first new petition for inter partes review (IPR) filed against a Native American tribe since the Board’s March ruling that IPRs against tribes are not barred by sovereign immunity, a decision that was upheld by the Federal Circuit on July 20. Institution decisions were also issued by the Board in July for IPRs against Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited and Sound View Innovations, LLC, among other notable plaintiffs. In addition, the PTAB issued final decisions throughout July for IPRs against a variety of other NPEs, from Intellectual Ventures LLC (which has continued to pursue its existing campaigns but has seemingly stopped filing new US litigation) to smaller entities like Andrea Electronics Corporation and XPRT Ventures LLC as well as individual inventor Daniel L. Flamm.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has invalidated six online payment patents due to unpatentable subject matter in a victory for eBay and PayPal. In a series of final decisions issued on July 23 in six covered business method (CBM) reviews filed by the two companies against XPRT Ventures LLC, the Board ruled that the NPE’s patents are invalid under Alice as unpatentably directed to various abstract ideas based on fundamental economic concepts involving transactions and payments. These decisions follow a fresh bout of Federal Circuit skepticism toward the basic Alice framework itself. Recent court opinions have exposed a sharp divide concerning the impact of February decisions in Berkheimer and Aatrix, which placed limits on early 101 challenges, with Senior Circuit Judge S. Jay Plager going so far as to decry Alice and its progeny as an “incoherent body of doctrine”.