Today, in MCM Portfolio LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Co., a panel of the Federal Circuit unanimously upheld the constitutionality of IPR proceedings, finding that delegation of patent invalidity determinations to a non-Article III Court (in this case, the PTAB) is permissible and that Article 7 of the Constitution is not violated when a patentee cannot bring a jury trial as a result of patent revocation through an IPR proceeding.
Congress Can Delegate Patent Validity Decisions to Non-Article III Courts
First, the panel noted that several Supreme Court decisions, including Thomas v. Union Carbide Agricultural Products Co., 473 U.S. 568, 571 (1985), supported delegation of analogous disputes to agencies that were non-Article III Courts. Second, the court found support in its own precedent which held that reexaminations are appropriately conducted in a non-Article III court, citing Patlex Corp. v. Mossinghoff, 758 F.2d 594 (Fed. Cir. 1985), modified on other grounds on reh’g, 771 F.2d 480 (Fed. Cir. 1985). Since IPRs and reexaminations are similar proceedings, this line of cases further supported the outcome in this case.
There Is No Right To A Jury Trial for a Patent Owner
The court similarly rejected the constitutional argument that MCM should be entitled to a jury trial under Article 7. Again citing to precedent relating to reexamination, the court found analogously that IPRs are permissible for the same reasons reexamination is permissible.
This may not be the last word, as many patent owners continue to look for constitutional angles upon which to challenge AIA proceedings.