The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the government entity that is responsible for reviewing and granting patents. But like any entity, it is not uncommon for the Patent Office to grant a patent in error.
However, while the new patent owner might be excited at their milestone, third-party entities like the patent holder’s competition might register their disquiet. In this case, the dissatisfied parties may seek legal redress by initiating an Inter Partes Review (IPR) petition.
But what exactly is IPR and when does it apply?
Basically, Inter Partes Review allows individuals and businesses to contest an issued patent before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). IPR can be filed by a business that wants to see its competitor’s talent revoked or when another entity is accusing you of patent infringement.
To challenge a patent before the PTAB, an IPR petition must be filed within nine months from the date the patent was issued or upon the termination of a Post Grant Review proceeding.
So when does IPR become useful?
An IPR can be extremely beneficial when used as part of an intellectual property strategy. Here are two instances when IPR petition may be necessary:
IPR is cost-effective
When you have issues with your competition’s patent, you can file a petition with the PTAB or file a civil lawsuit at the District Court. And as you can imagine, the court process is inherently an expensive undertaking. IPR lets you challenge copyright infringement without paying through the nose.
IPR offers a quicker path to invalidity
Once you have filed a petition with the PTAB, they will institute a proceeding immediately. Depending on the complexity of the matter, you can expect the decision within 12 to 24 months. The court process, on the other hand, can take years to conclude the matter.
If you are considering filing an Inter Partes Review against your competition, or someone is accusing you of patent infringement, it is important that you know your legal rights and obligations.