The Supreme Court issued decisions in several major intellectual property cases in 2016. We look at two more decisions in today’s blog, including claim construction in administrative proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Supreme Court also considered the ramifications of failing to make timely objections to jury instructions and failing to raise statute of limitations defenses in a computer fraud case.


Claim Construction in USPTO Administrative Proceedings

The passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act in 2011 created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and a quartet of administrative proceedings that could be used to invalidate patents before the PTAB. One type of administrative proceeding is called an inter partes review (IPR).

In Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, the Supreme Court confirmed that the USPTO had the authority to implement a regulation that requires the PTAB to apply a broadest reasonable construction to claims subject to IPR. The Court also confirmed that a party could not appeal a refusal by the PTAB to institute an IPR in that same decision.


Failure to Object to Jury Instructions and to Raise Defenses in Computer Fraud Cases

The Supreme Court considered two procedural issues in a criminal computer fraud case in Musacchio v. U.S. The case concerned the unauthorized access of the computer system of a logistics company by a former president that had set up a rival company.

The first issue was highly technical and concerned how to treat a failure to object to a jury instruction by the prosecution when the jury instruction adds an element to a crime. The Supreme Court held that an appellate court should consider the elements of the actual crime, not the elements as set forth in the erroneous jury instruction. The second issue was more straightforward. The Court held that a defendant could not raise a statute-of-limitations defense at the appellate level for the first time.