Supreme Court rejects Intel bid to challenge rule on patent reviews

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  • Intel petition related to $2.1 billion VLSI chip-patent verdict
  • Apple, Mylan also fought PTO rule without success

(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a request by Intel Corp to revive several challenges to the validity of computer-chip patents owned by VLSI Technology LLC, which won over $2.1 billion from Intel last year in a lawsuit over some of the patents.

Intel had asked the high court to overturn a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rule that has reduced the number of patents reviewed by a PTO tribunal. The Supreme Court rejected similar challenges by Apple Inc and Mylan Laboratories to the same rule earlier this year.

Intel declined to comment. An attorney for VLSI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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VLSI, an affiliate of the SoftBank-owned private equity firm Fortress Investment Group, has sued Intel for allegedly infringing several semiconductor patents in West Texas, Northern California, and Delaware.

A West Texas jury found last March that Intel infringed two VLSI patents and awarded the company over $2.1 billion, marking one of the largest patent awards in U.S. history. A jury in the same court sided with Intel in a second patent trial that April in which VLSI had requested $3.1 billion.

A third West Texas trial is scheduled to start next month.

A California trial is set to begin in 2024. The Delaware court has not yet scheduled a trial.

Intel had challenged several VLSI patents from the court cases in a type of proceeding before the PTO's Patent Trial and Appeal Board known as inter partes review. The board rejected Intel's challenges based on an internal rule that says it should deny review if, among other things, a related court case is closer to trial and has overlapping issues.

Intel argued in its Supreme Court petition that the rule undermines the intended role of inter partes review in improving the patent system's integrity. IPR proceedings are broadly popular with technology companies and others that are often targeted with infringement suits, but less so with inventors and pharmaceutical companies that rely on patent protection to prevent generic competition.

The U.S. government, weighing in on Intel's petition, backed a U.S. appeals court's finding in the case that courts cannot review decisions to deny IPR.

VLSI waived its right to respond to Intel's Supreme Court petition.

The PTO agreed in January to hear a challenge to one of the patents from the $2.1 billion verdict at the request of a South Dakota-based entity called Patent Quality Assurance LLC.

The Supreme Court case is Intel Corp v. VLSI Technology LLC, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 21-888.

For Intel: Catherine Carroll and Seth Waxman of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr

For VLSI: Nathan Lowenstein of Lowenstein & Weatherwax

Read more:

Apple, Mylan lose Supreme Court bids to challenge patent review rule

Intel loses U.S. patent trial, ordered to pay $2.18 billion to VLSI Tech

Intel defeats VLSI Technology in $3.1 bln patent trial

U.S. panel to review patent from $2.1 bln Intel court loss

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com