I have written several times about the Patent Office’s recent attempts to restrict inventors’ protections under the patent laws. On Wednesday, the day before the new rules were to take effect, Judge James C. Cacherisi, of the Eastern District of Virginia, shut them down.
Over the strenuous objections of the Patent Office, Judge Cacherisi allowed amici (friend of the court) briefs from several entities bashing the Patent Office’s new rules. Of particular note was the declaration of former Patent Office Director, Harry F. Manbeck, explaining why the new rules are illegal. The Judge actually relied on Mr. Manbeck’s declaration in rendering the decision.
Most importantly, Judge Cacherisi’s ruling stopped the new patent rules from taking affect yesterday. The Judge held that the Patent Office’s restrictions on the number of patent claims and number of continuations that an inventor could file appeared to be beyond the Patent Office’s authority. The Judge also found that the new Patent Office requirements that inventors conduct their own searches did not give inventor’s sufficient guidance to be able to comply with the new rules.
The court found that the plaintiff, GlaxoSmithKline (GSX), was likely to succeed on the merits of the case, would suffer irreparable harm from the new rules, that the balance of the hardships weighed in favor of an injunction and that allowing the new rules to go into affect would potentially harm the public. From my read of the opinion, it appears the Patent Office tried to slip these rules by, assuming no one would have the audacity to question its authority. Lucky for inventors everywhere, there are 800 pound gorillas like GSK and judges like Judge Cacherisi with the fortitude to protect and defend the protections afforded inventors under the Constitution.