Supreme Court holds that the federal government is not a “person” authorized to file an inter partes review petition challenging the validity of a patent

Monday, June 10, 2019 - 3:45pm

In Return Mail, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, in a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that the federal government is not a “person” able to challenge the validity of a patent under the American Invents Act (AIA).  Return Mail sued the U.S. Postal Service for allegedly infringing its patent.  The Postal Service responded by challenging the patent’s validity under the AIA, which allows only a “person” to bring such challenges.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded that the government is a person, but the Supreme Court reversed, explaining that there is a “longstanding interpretive presumption” that the word “person” does not include the government.  This decision will help level the litigation playing field when the Chamber’s members seek compensation from the government for patent infringement.  The Chamber filed a brief at the merits stage supporting this result.