This website illustrates how Civil Engineers may make greater use of the Global Patent System to Promote Progress in their Field.
The American Founders included Patent Rights in the United States Constitution to Promote Progress.
Post-Grant Review (PGR)
U.S. Patenting
     The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act will make Post-Grant Review available against patents issuing from patent applications filed on or after March 16, 2013.  Post-Grant Review allows a third party to challenge an issued patent for up to nine months following that patent's issue.  Because it often takes applications two or more years to issue after filing, significant numbers of Post-Grant Review proceedings will probably not commence until 2015 or later.  In keeping with U.S. patent reform's goal of harmonizing American patent law with most other nations, Post-Grant Review establishes a U.S. counterpart to the patent opposition proceedings already available in Europe.  Leahy-Smith also provides for Inter partes Review, which becomes available to challengers following the Post-Grant Review window of nine months.    

     The third party challenger must disclose itself as the real party in interest to file a Post-Grant Review, and therefore the challenger cannot remain anonymous (e.g., as in Third Party Submissions).  The challenger may attempt to invalidate some or all patent claims of an issued patent under several statutory provisions (e.g., 35 U.S.C. 102, 103, and 112).  To successfully initiate Post-Grant Review, the challenger must convince the USPTO that at least one patent claim is "more likely than not" unpatentable, which arguably amounts to a preponderance of the evidence standard.  If the challenger has already filed a Declaratory Judgment action over a given patent, then Post-Grant Review is not available to the challenger for that patent.  If the USPTO grants Post-Grant Review, a proceeding follows pitting the patent owner against the challenger.  The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) will issue a final decision regarding the challenged patent's validity within 12-18 months.  Either party may appeal the PTAB's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.    

Although the USPTO charges a significant fee to the challenger for conducting a Post-Grant Review proceeding ($30,000, with an additional surcharge for each challenged claim in excess of 20), the costs of litigation will typically dwarf Post-Grant Review fees.  Also, the burden of proof on the challenger for invalidating patent claims is lower in Post-Grant Review than in a patent infringement suit.  However, Post-Grant Review carries with it significant estoppel that could foreclose other avenues of attack against a patent by a challenger who loses at a Post-Grant Review proceeding.  Still, Post-Grant Review may offer an attractive alternative to challengers wishing to proactively invalidate a patent immediately following that patent's issue.
Tappan Zee Bridge in New York
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