IPRs do not violate either Article III or the Seventh Amendment’s right to trial by jury
MCM Portfolio LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Company, No. 2015-1091 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2015)
The PTAB held the patent claims obvious in an IPR. The patentee challenged the decision to initiate the IPR and whether the final decision violated Article III or the Seventh Amendment’s right to trial by jury. The Federal Circuit rejected these arguments.
The Federal Circuit reiterated that Section 314(d) prohibits the court from reviewing any decision to institute an IPR. The court also explained that the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that Congress may delegate authority over disputes involving public rights to non-Article III courts. Public rights include rights derived “from a federal regulatory scheme” or “created by federal law.” Patent rights are indisputably public rights. IPRs are Congressionally established adjudications of these public patent rights. Given that Congress has the authority to delegate issuance of patents to the PTO, “[i]t would be odd indeed if Congress could not authorize the PTO to reconsider its own decisions.” Thus, IPRs do not violate Article III.
Further, the court held that IPRs do not violate the Seventh Amendment’s right to trial by jury. As with Congress’s right to delegate authority over public rights disputes, the Supreme Court has held that Congress may delegate adjudication of public rights to administrative agencies without complying with the Seventh Amendment. This decision extends to IPRs the court’s prior decision that previously established that ex parte reexamination proceedings do not violate Article III or the right to a jury trial.