The Federal Circuit has ruled that it lacks jurisdiction to review a PTAB decision to vacate and terminate an IPR institution decision, either by appeal or writ of mandamus.
In GEA Process Eng’g, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc., No. 15-1536 (Fed. Cir. Jun. 23, 2015), the Federal Circuit denied GEA Process’s parallel appeal and mandamus petition seeking review of the PTAB’s vacation of its institution decisions in IPR2014-00041, 00043, -00051, -00054, and -00055. In the IPRs, the PTAB initially instituted review but later vacated its institution decisions and terminated the proceedings after finding the petitions omitted GEA Process’s affiliate, GEA Procomac S.p.A, a real party-in-interest (RPI). Slip op. at 2-3. Correcting the petitions would have required granting a new filing date, but both petitioner parties were now time-barred under 35 U.S.C. §315(b), so the PTAB terminated the proceedings. See, e.g., IPR2014-00041, Paper No. 136 (Dec. 23, 2014).
In dismissing the appeal, the Federal Circuit reaffirmed its decisions in St. Jude Med., Cardiology Div., Inc. v. Volcano Corp., 749 F.3d 1373, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2014) and GTNX, Inc. v. INTTRA, Inc., No. 2015-1349 et al., 2015 WL 3692319 (Fed. Cir. June 16, 2015), that it only has jurisdiction to review “final written decision[s] with respect to patentability,” “after [the PTAB] conducts the proceeding that the Director has instituted.” GEA Process Eng’g, slip op. at 3. Citing GTNX, the court noted it “is of no moment” that “the Board initially instituted the proceedings but subsequently vacated the institution decisions and terminated the proceedings,” because “the statutory language [is] not limited to an initial determination to the exclusion of a determination on reconsideration.” Id. at 4. According to the Court, it does not matter that “this case involved inter partes review . . . rather than covered business method review” as in GTNX, because institution decisions are final and unappealable in both types of proceedings. Id. at 3-4.
The court also denied a writ petition, finding that the same statutory scheme precluding review of institution decisions means that GEA Process could not meet the “clear and indisputable right to relief” standard for mandamus. Id. at 4 (citations omitted).
In addition to the limitations on Federal Circuit jurisdiction, this case teaches petitioners to be careful to name all RPIs in the initial petition, particularly in cases where there is a statutory deadline for filing a petition.