On July 23, 2014, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board denied institution of an inter partes review of U.S. Patent No. 6,823,269 B2, owned by Westinghouse Electric Company, for reasons of administrative efficiency. The involved patent relates to techniques used in the inspection of tubing found in nuclear reactors and covers “a method of synthesizing nondestructive examination data of a component.”

Citing 35 U.S.C. § 312(a)(3), the Board stated that to be considered for inter partes review, the petitioner must identify, “in writing and with particularity, each claim challenged, the grounds on which the challenge to each claim is based, and the evidence that supports the grounds for the challenge to each claim.”

According to the PTAB, the petitioner Zetec presented at least 127 different grounds of unpatentability and failed to fully develop any of the grounds. The Board found that petitioner failed to cite any portion of the specification of the ’269 Patent or provide any other evidence as to why the proffered constructions reflect each term’s ordinary and customary meaning. Additionally, the Board found that while the petitioner listed, in a summary fashion, 68 grounds of unpatentability, those grounds rely on one or more of fourteen references. Therefore, the Board concluded that Zetec asserted no fewer than 127 grounds of unpatentability with minimal analysis.

In its decision, the Board stated that it  “decline[d] to expend our resources scouring the numerous grounds for one that demonstrates a reasonable likelihood that petitioner would prevail in showing unpatentability of at least one of the claims.” Attempting to do so in the mere three-month statutory timeframe would “undermine the board's ability to complete determinations regarding other petitions awaiting decisions on institution and to complete instituted trials in the time periods mandated by Congress,” the Board said.

Zetec, Inc. v. Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC, IPR2014-00384 (PTAB July 23, 2014).