The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether or not a system that Apple and Google, amongst others, have used to invalidate hundreds of patents is constitutional. On Monday, justices began to consider the future of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) – nicknamed ‘The Death Squad’ after tossing out around 2,000 patents in total.
Apple and Other Big Tech Firms Back PTAB
The justices are actually presiding over a case involving a surgical device patent by a firm called Arthrex. The PTAB invalidated its patent following a challenge by Smith & Nephew. Apple, the biggest user of the review boards according to Bloomberg News, is backing Arthrex. It said that it relies “on Congress’s promise of a fair and efficient forum to challenge what often prove to be woefully weak patents that should not have issued in the first instance.”
Apple is far from the only big tech firm taking this position. Intel, Google, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, and Samsung all back keeping the PTAB. The U.S. Justice Department also wants the existing system to remain in place. However, a self-declared group of “39 aggrieved innovators” has claimed that intellectual property rights are “under attack by large corporations that are motivated to devalue patents and quell competition.”
The Supreme Court has also deferred action in a number of other cases that will likely be affected by its ruling on the PTAB.