Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Facebook, Inc., No. 19-1688 (Fed. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Uniloc’s patent is directed to “a system and method for enabling local and global instant [Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)] messaging over an IP network.” Facebook filed two petitions for inter partes review (IPR) of the patent, challenging claims as obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103. Apple's IPR proceeding was already pending. Facebook filed a third petition, identical in substance to Apple’s petition, with a motion to join the Apple IPR. The Board granted Facebook’s motion. LG filed IPR petitions identical in substance to Facebook’s original petitions, with motions to join both Facebook IPRs. The Board instituted IPRs based on LG’s petitions and granted LG’s motion. In the Apple IPR, the Board upheld the patentability of all challenged claims. The Board dismissed-in-part Facebook, finding that Facebook was estopped under 35 U.S.C. 315(e)(1), as to the claims challenged in the Apple IPR. The Board concluded that the dismissal of Facebook did not limit LG’s participation. In consolidated IPRs, the Board found all of the challenged claims unpatentable. Uniloc unsuccessfully sought rehearing, arguing that the proceeding should have been terminated once the original petitioner, Facebook, was deemed estopped,
The Federal Circuit affirmed; 35 U.S.C. 314(d)’s “No Appeal” provision did not bar review of the Board’s conclusion that under section 315(e)(1) a petitioner is not estopped from maintaining the IPR proceeding before it. The Board did not err in finding that LG was not estopped from maintaining its IPR challenge to claims 1–8 and that Facebook is not estopped from challenging claim 7. There was no error in the Board’s unpatentability findings.