Federal Circuit Limits Discovery in Inter Partes Re-examination Proceedings

We reported last week on the discovery limitations under United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) guidelines as they pertain to inter partes review (“IPR”) proceedings. On Wednesday, in Abbott Labs. v. Cordis Corp., the Federal Circuit ruled that discovery is not allowed in inter partes re-examinations. The case stemmed from Abbott’s motion to quash two subpoenas duces tecum issued by Cordis which sought documents for use in a pending IPR re-examination. Id. at 2. In the underlying action, Cordis sued Abbott in the District Court for the District of New Jersey for infringement of two of its patents directed to drug-eluting stents. Id. at 3. The PTO agreed to inter partes re-examination of the patents and by office action, the examiners found both patents obvious. Id. at 3-4.