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Supreme Court Rules Inter Partes Reviews Are Constitutional


April 24, 2018

In Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Green’s Energy Group, LLC, the Supreme Court today ruled that the inter partes reviews are constitutional.


In a 7-2 opinion authored by Justice Thomas, the Court rejected Oil State’s argument, and held that inter partes review (“IPR”) falls within the public-rights doctrine—the doctrine applies to matters arising between the government and others.  The Court noted that the grant of a patent is a matter involving public rights, and “Congress has significant latitude to assign adjudication of public rights to entities other than Article III courts.”  Because IPR is simply a second look at an earlier administrative grant of that patent, the USPTO has the authority to conduct that reconsideration.  The Court also held that IPR does not violate Seventh Amendment because Congress can properly assign it to the PTO and a jury is not necessary.  

Justice Gorsuch, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, filed a dissenting opinion.


In SAS Institute v. Iansu, the Court, in a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch, held that when the Patent Trial and Appeal Board institutes an IPR, it must decide the patentability of all of the claims challenged in the petition.