Through June 15, 2018, the Federal Circuit decided 377 PTAB appeals from IPRs and CBMs. The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB on every issue in 286 (75.86%) cases, and reversed or vacated the PTAB on every issue in 42 (11.14%) cases. A mixed outcome on appeal, where at least one issue was affirmed and at least one issue was vacated or reversed, occurred in 36 (9.55%) cases.
The court dismissed 13 (3.45%) appeals without rendering a decision on the merits. Dismissals may occur, for example, where the Federal Circuit determines that it does not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal, such as in an appeal from a PTAB institution decision.
As the Supreme Court established in Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC v. Lee, the Federal Circuit is barred from considering appeals from at least certain aspects of institution decisions under 35 U.S.C. § 314(d). Dismissals may also result from settlements among the parties to the appeal, or where the court determines that a prior decision renders an appeal moot. However, with the Federal Circuit’s en banc opinion in Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp. determining that decisions regarding the IPR time bar under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) are reviewable on appeal, the number of PTAB appeals to the Federal Circuit may increase over time. The volume of issues on appeal may also increase as a result of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in SAS Institute Inc. v. Iancu. In response to SAS, the Patent Office has decided that, if it institutes review on any claim, it will also institute review on every claim and ground presented in a petition.
An important tool that helps the Federal Circuit manage its significant docket of PTAB appeals is the Rule 36 affirmance, whereby the court affirms the PTAB without rendering a full, written opinion. Of the 377 PTAB appeals it has considered thus far, the Federal Circuit has issued Rule 36 affirmances in 178 (47.21%) cases. The court issued written opinions, including affirmances, reversals, dismissals, and mixed decisions, in 199 (52.79%) cases.
Breaking down the numbers further, in its appeals from IPRs, the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB on every issue in 261 (75.65%) cases, reversed or vacated the PTAB on every issue in 40 (11.59%) cases, issued a mixed outcome in 34 (9.86%) cases, and dismissed 10 (2.90%) cases.
In CBM appeals, the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB on every issue in 25 (78.13%) cases, issued a mixed outcome in 2 (6.25%) cases, dismissed 3 (9.38%) cases, and reversed or vacated the PTAB on every issue in 2 (6.25%) cases.