CAPA Asks Congress to Address the Supreme Court’s Decision to Preserve the Inter Partes Review Process, Balance Innovation with Patient Cost

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the United States v. Arthrex Inc. case, the Coalition Against Patent Abuse (CAPA) said that it’s critical for Congress to now address this decision and work to protect and strengthen the Inter Partes Review (IPR) within the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), by ensuring that IPR is prompt and focused. 

The case addressed whether the Appointments Clause of the Constitution requires additional oversight for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges, called Administrative Patent Judges (APJs).  The Court resolved the Constitutional question by giving the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – which PTAB falls under – the ability to review a PTAB final written decision. 

“It cannot be stressed enough that PTAB’s ability to conduct IPR proceedings is critical to addressing the pressing policy crisis caused by ever-lengthening patent monopolies.  Patent thickets have resulted in rising drug prices and limited access to medications that American patients rely on.  While the Courts have offered a solution that largely safeguards the IPR process, it is up to Congress to not only preserve, but strengthen IPR in a way that balances innovation and competition,” CAPA Executive Director Matthew Lane stated today. 

Last year, the Coalition Against Patent Abuse (CAPA) filed an amicus brief with the Court in its review of United States v. Arthrex Inc., outlining its concerns regarding the lower court’s decision to eliminate job protections for PTAB judges who were tasked by Congress to ensure that issued patents meet patentability standards.  As CAPA expressed, politicizing PTAB judges opens the door for greater partisan influence in patent decisions made by PTAB judges and ultimately putting patients at greater risk.  Congress intended for the IPR process to simply be a way for the USPTO to correct mistakes, and allowing such influence opposes that intent.

“Erroneously issued patents pose a severe threat to the U.S. healthcare system and result in the ability for some drug manufacturers to unreasonably extend drug monopolies, making them unaffordable or inaccessible to numerous Americans.  IPR proceedings have successfully and selectively struck down such bad patents, enabling competition and dramatically lowering prices.  At the end of the day, IPR must serve as a robust tool for quickly and inexpensively reviewing weak patents that may have been granted in error.  We ask Congress to quickly act to clarify the Court’s ruling to ensure that IPRs proceed expeditiously and that any review by the Director is not used as a tool to delay competition” stated CAPA Executive Director Matthew Lane.

In its fight against anticompetitive tactics used by some major pharmaceutical companies to keep competition out and prices high, CAPA recently issued a mini-series called, “Spot-On Savings” which highlights the importance of the IPR process to reduce legal costs and a cancel invalid patent claims, which can reduce or eliminate patent thickets around important medicines.  Since the system was created by the America Invents Act in 2011, it has saved over $2 billion in deadweight loss by reducing the cost of determining patent validity and has also been used to invalidate patents that were weaponized against small businesses and governments. 

About CAPA

The Coalition Against Patent Abuse are healthcare providers, consumer groups, patient advocacy organizations, free market advocates, employers, and others fighting abuses of the patent system that can extend government-granted monopolies that illegitimately keep drug prices high for years, or even decades. Our members include the following groups and organizations: America’s Health Insurance Plans, Association for Accessible Medicines, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, Citizen Outreach, Consumer Action, Innovation Defense Foundation, Institute for Liberty, Kaiser Permanente, Knowledge Ecology International, Lincoln Network, Niskanen Center, R Street Institute, SEIU, Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.