We recently reported on developments of Peloton’s legal battle with competitor NordicTrack. However, Peloton is also in legal disputes with another competitor: Echelon.
Last summer, Echelon had asked the USPTO to examine two of Peloton’s patents, claiming that they should be invalidated. The case had slowly been progressing through the system. At this point, the arguments in the hearing had simply been presenting initial evidence so that the judges could decide whether a full reexamination of the patent was going to be allowed.
Yesterday, the judges made a partial ruling in that case as Bloomberg Law reported. With regards to Peloton’s patent 10486026, the judges found that “we determine Petitioner has demonstrated a reasonable likelihood that it would prevail with respect to at least one of the remaining claims challenged in the Petition. Accordingly, we institute an inter partes review of the challenged claims of the ’026 patent.”
What does this ruling mean? Simply that the USPTO will continue doing a formal review of the patent in question, though the evidence they have seen at this point indicates that the patent is likely to be ruled invalid.
In the arguments made to the court, Peloton argued that the investigation of the patent should be denied, as the prior art & other patents Echelon was presenting as evidence to invalidate the claim had already been considered when the patent was initially granted.
Echelon, during argument made so far, was relying on 6 different pre-existing patents to make their arguments. There are 20 different claims made in Peloton’s patent. For each claim, Echelon used a combination of those 6 pre-existing patents to make at least two different prior art claims for each claim. Based on the evidence presented by Echelon, the judges seemed open to the fact some information might have been missed when the initial patent was granted. One statement in the case was:
As noted above, we find that Hurwitz sufficiently discloses, on this preliminary record, the “dynamically updating ranked list” limitation because Hurwitz discloses a ranked list, dynamically updated data, and a relative comparison of the performance of each user, and that it would have been obvious to order the list with respect to the users’ performance parameters. See Pet. 28–29 (citing Ex. 1003 ¶ 122). Accordingly, we determine that the Examiner overlooked the teachings of Hurwitz in determining the patentability of the challenged claims. Because we disagree with several aspects of the Examiner’s statements, based on the current record, and those statements formed the basis for the reasons for allowance, we find those statements material to patentability.
The next step in the case will be the “inter partes” review of the patent. This is “a trial proceeding conducted at the Board to review the patentability of one or more claims in a patent only on a ground that could be raised under §§ 102 or 103, and only on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications. ”
Don’t expect a super quick resolution though. The inter partes review can take up to 1 year, with a possible 6 month extension as well.