The process used for challenging patents in the United States of America could be about to change after the Supreme Court agreed to take on Oil States Energy Services (OSES) vs. Greene’s Energy Group LLC.  The challenge focuses on inter partes reviews, a rule that was created in 2012 as part of the America Invents Act that allows companies and individuals to challenge patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

Oil States Energy Services (OSES) is challenging the constitutionality of inter partes reviews on the grounds that the PTO reviews deprive patent owners of the right to a jury trial to defend their patents. Greene’s Energy Group LLC, the defendant in the case, says the PTO is within the bounds of the law in reviewing patent challenges.

A portion of OSES’s analysis is predicated on the contention that intellectual property and patents are not public rights, but instead private or property rights, which should be adjudicated in a court of law, not by a government agency.

“Most fundamentally, the government’s position rests entirely on a faulty premise — that ‘[p]atents are quintessential public rights,’ ” OSES wrote in May.

“To the contrary, this Court has held that a patent “confers upon the patentee an exclusive property in the patented invention,” OSES continued, citing Horne v. Department of Agriculture, a 2009 Supreme Court case. “This Court has also noted that ‘[p]rivate rights have traditionally included property rights,’ ” it wrote, citing a 2016 Supreme Court case, Spokeo Inc. v. Robins.

The justices had previously declined to take up the case in October but had considered a similar case in 2016, Cuozzo Speed Tech v. Lee. That case revolved around whether the PTO’s inter partes review should be subject to a judicial review. The court ruled 6-2 in favor of Cuozzo and the PTO’s authority in reviewing patent challenges.


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