Federal Circuit Holds that Interference Proceedings Cannot be Applied to Pure AIA Patents and Applications

In SNIPR Technologies Ltd. V. Rockefeller University, No. 2022-1260 (Fed. Cir. July 14, 2023), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB judgment that an interference proceeding could be used by Rockefeller University (“Rockefeller”) to establish priority for its U.S. Pat. Appln. No. 15/159,929 over several pure AIA patents owned by SNIPR Technologies Ltd. (“SNIPR”) including USPNs 10,463,049; 10,506,812; 10,561,148; 10,524,477; and 10,582,712. The PTAB denied SNIPR’s motions to dismiss and granted priority to the Rockefeller application, deciding that the interference was appropriate based on pre-AIA language that said the Director was authorized to declare an interference between any application and “any unexpired patent.” However, the CAFC reversed the PTAB’s decision, looking at the plain meaning of the statutory AIA language – which said that only pure pre-AIA and mixed patents should be subject to an interference – when viewed in the context of the Congress’s intent to eliminate interference proceedings. The Court cited further reasoning, e.g., it was clear that the language “any expired patent” was not intended to refer to AIA patents because it would be inconsistent with the language of the AIA which does not allow interferences with pure AIA patents, and furthermore the AIA allows for new proceedings to handle issues with as IPRs, post-grant reviews and Ex Parte Reexaminations.