Did You Submit an IDS During Reexamination? Does It Matter?

Earlier this month, the Federal Circuit in Belkin Int’l, Inc. v. Kappos, 2012-1090, published an important decision potentially limiting the scope of both ex-parte and inter-partes reexaminations. Traditionally during reexamination, practitioners submit information disclosure statements (IDS) to the Patent Office disclosing patents and printed publications with the understanding that the examiner would consider those references in relation to the claims subject to reexam. Very often, if the references were properly submitted, the examiner would record that the references were considered, but would not apply the references against the claims. The benefit to the patent owner is that this could create a heavy burden for subsequent defendants to show that the claims were invalid in view of this prior art. Belkin v. Kappos may change this practice and understanding.