A patent applicant’s first round of appeals is to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). But if a patent applicant receives a negative ruling from the PTAB, it isn’t necessarily the end of the road. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals made that clear in a case where it faulted the Board for failing to adequately lay out just whyan invention was obvious and therefore unpatentable.
It probably comes as no surprise that inventions that are obvious aren’t eligible for patents. Yet arguments over obviousness land in the court all the time. A recent ruling by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (which hears all patent-related appeals) in Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc. illustrates several arguments that can arise when the obviousness of an invention — and therefore the validity of its patent — is at issue.