All challenged claims of two Belden, Inc. patents, directed to a data cable, were forced into IPR trials in cases styled, Berk-Tek LLC v. Belden Inc. (IPR2013-00058 and IPR2013-00059), involving US Patents No. 7,977,575 and 7,135,641. The Patent Owner did not file a preliminary response in this case. Trial was instituted for all 34 claims of the ‘575 patent and all 22 claims of the ‘641 patent.
The patents are directed to a high performance data cable using twisted pairs of conductors. The cable incorporates an interior support around which the twisted pairs are disposed. The interior support is characterized as a “star separator” and has a center region with four “prongs or splines” extending from the central region. Twisted pairs of conductors are disposed within grooves or channels formed between the splines.
In the IPR2013-00058 case, Petitioner challenged 34 claims by asserting 86 anticipation and obviousness challenges, involving 16 different prior art references, that took over 8 pages of the decision to list. The IPR2013-00059 case involved 22 claims in which 16 separate challenge grounds were alleged based on 7 prior art references.
Because no special meanings were alleged by the Petitioner, and no preliminary response was filed wherein Patent Owner could assert its own construction of the claim terms, the Board simply stated that all claim terms of the ‘575 patent had their ordinary and customary meaning, and jumped right into an analysis of the challenge grounds. The Board dutifully waded through analysis of the maze of challenge grounds for 17 pages to address nine grounds that the Board felt involved the most important reference. These nine grounds provided a reasonable likelihood for success as to all challenged claims of the ‘575 patent. The Board then dismissed the remaining 77 challenge grounds as redundant. A similar analysis occurred in the IPR2013-00059 case as the Board set forth a straightforward analysis, dismissing numerous grounds as redundant.
In the end, the Board granted trial on all 56 challenged claim of the two patents. In general, petitioners are rightfully concerned that the estoppel provisions of Inter Partes Review proceedings militate towards including more grounds for unpatentability versus less. The Board’s continued efforts to severely curtail the ultimate IPR trials, however, suggests that effort on the part of petitioners is oftentimes being wasted, especially here, when almost 100 grounds were deemed redundant and denied.