TAKEAWAY: Though it’s difficult to predict what effect the new claim construction standard will have, if any, petitioners considering the PTAB as a venue for challenging patents may wish to consider filing petitions before the new claim construction standard takes effect. 

The USPTO plans to revise the claim construction standard for interpreting claims in inter partes review (IPR), post-grant review (PGR), and covered business method patents (CBM) proceedings. Specifically, the PTAB will replace the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard with the same standard applied in federal courts to construe patent claims, i.e., the standard articulated in Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc). Additionally, when construing a claim term in an IPR, PGR, or CBM proceeding, the PTAB will consider any prior claim construction determination concerning a term of the claim in a civil action, or a proceeding before the International Trade Commission (ITC), if that prior claim construction is timely made of record in the PTAB. The USPTO’s changes are not retroactive and will apply only to IPR, PGR, and CBM petitions filed on or after November 13, 2018. More info may be found in the USPTO’s final rule publication.