PGS Geophysical AS v. Iancu, No. 16-2470 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
PGS’s patent describes and claims methods and systems for performing “marine seismic surveying” to determine the structure of earth formations below the seabed. WesternGeco, a competitor of PGS’s, filed three petitions requesting inter partes reviews (IPRs) of claims 1– 38 of the patent. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted three IPRs, but it specified for review only some of the claims WesternGeco challenged and only some of the grounds for WesternGeco’s challenges. The Board ruled partly for PGS and partly for WesternGeco on the reviewed claims and grounds. The Federal Circuit affirmed that certain claims of the patent are unpatentable for obviousness. Although precedent now makes clear that the Board erred in limiting the scope of the IPRs it instituted and hence the scope of its final written decisions, the court found that it had jurisdiction to address the merits of the Board’s final written decisions without reviving the “non-instituted” claims and grounds.