In re: Procter & Gamble Co., No. 14-121 (Fed. Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
P&G owns patents that claim systems or methods for whitening teeth. P&G sued TT, alleging infringement of the three patents; in another district, Clio, which manufactured the accused products, sought a declaratory judgment action against P&G, alleging that the patents were invalid, unenforceable, or not infringed. In its declaratory-judgment action. P&G amended its complaint in the Ohio action to add Clio as a defendant. When TT and Clio then moved for a stay or a transfer to New Jersey, the Ohio district court denied both motions. The New Jersey district court dismissed Clio’s declaratory-judgment action there without prejudice. Clio then timely petitioned the PTO to institute inter partes reviews of the patents under 35 U.S.C. 311-319. P&G responded, arguing that Clio’s earlier declaratory judgment action involving the same three patents, though it had been voluntarily dismissed, barred the institution of inter partes reviews under section 315(a). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board disagreed and granted all three petitions, because 35 U.S.C. 315(a)(1) states: “An inter partes review may not be instituted if, before the date on which the petition for such a review is filed, the petitioner or real party in interest filed a civil action challenging the validity of a claim of the patent.” P&G sought a writ of mandamus under 28 U.S.C. 1651. The Federal Circuit denied the petition, stating that mandamus action is not available.