On November 13, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requested the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit suspend all consideration of an appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that would raise the same issues addressed in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith and Nephew, Inc., because the Office will seek rehearing en banc in Arthrex. See Stuben Foods, Inc. v. Nestle USA, Inc., No. 20-1082, -1083. As a reminder, on October 31, the Federal Circuit issued an important constitutional decision in Arthrex, which found that the hiring of Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) violated the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Federal Circuit did, however, attempt to provide a gift to the Office by rewriting the section of the statute they found to create the problem, which created the PTAB and the appointment of APJs, and by so doing turned APJs into inferior officers. The solution: APJs were judicially decreed to be employees-at-will in order to save the statute. So, why hasn’t Director Iancu cleaned house at the PTAB? It would seem to be because the USPTO believes Arthrex was wrongly decided.
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