PTAB Invalidates VR Patent in HTC IPR After Campaign Withstands Alice Challenge

September 15, 2019

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has ruled for HTC in a consolidated inter partes review (IPR) against inventor-controlled Electronic Scripting Products, Inc. (ESPi), holding that one of the NPE’s patents is invalid as obvious in light of prior art. ESPi asserted that patent and one other, both of which generally relate to virtual and augmented reality devices, in a late-2017 complaint targeting HTC’s VIVE virtual reality (VR) headset, a product developed with codefendant Valve. Last spring, the two patents withstood a validity challenge under Alice, when District Judge Richard Seeborg, acknowledging that the decision was a “close call”, held that the patents are directed not to an abstract idea, but to an improved system for locating a “manipulated object” in a close-range three-dimensional environment that places “photodetectors and relative motion sensors” on the objects themselves. The PTAB’s September 12 final decision comes about a month after the Board’s Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) designated a ruling in another IPR against ESPi as precedential—one of nine decisions flagged as precedential since May, as USPTO Director Andrei Iancu (who sits on the POP) continues to refine PTAB policy.

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