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Caution to Game Companies: PTAB Continues to Preclude PTAB Challenges That It Views As Untimely

In a proceeding that included Patent Office Director Andrei Iancu on the panel, the PTAB issued an order this past week denying institution of 3 IPRs filed by Valve. The decision demonstrates that the PTAB continues to tighten its standards for institution of post-grant challenges, including based upon considerations related to what it perceives as fairness to patent owners.

In federal district court, Valve and HTC had been accused of infringing the same patents. The plaintiff dismissed its case against Valve without prejudice. HTC proceeded to file its own IPR challenges for the asserted patents, and the PTAB issued its institution decisions for each of the HTC’s challenges. Recently, the Federal Circuit found that an accused infringer must file an IPR challenge within one year of being served with a complaint, even if the complaint was dismissed without prejudice. In response to that decision, Valve filed its own IPR challenges.

The PTAB denied institution of Valve’s IPR challenges as an exercise of its statutory discretion under 35 U.S.C. 314(a). In reaching the decision, the PTAB considered the factors it created in the General Plastic decision. As part of that analysis, the PTAB found that Valve and HTC were “similarly situated” because both companies were co-defendants in the same case and were accused of infringing the same patents. The PTAB found that instituting Valve’s later-filed IPR challenges would give Valve an unfair advantage over the Patent Owner because Valve could use the Patent Owner’s preliminary responses and the PTAB’s institution decisions for the HTC IPR challenges when preparing Valve’s IPR challenges. The fact that Valve filed its IPR challenges in order to account for the change in law did not prevent the PTAB from denying institution.

This decision is yet another cautionary signal to game companies and other defendants to not delay filing PTAB challenges, even if they believe there are legitimate reasons for waiting to file. Given the PTAB’s increasing scrutiny of the timing of post-grant challenges beyond just the one-year statute of limitations triggered by the service of a complaint, game companies are best served to promptly file any PTAB challenges for patent assertions against their products, including in situations where they are not directly named as a party.

Copyright © 2019, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.


About this Author

Harper Batts, Sheppard Mullin, Patent lawyer

Harper Batts is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group in the firm's Silicon Valley office.

Areas of Practice

Harper has more than a decade of experience as an intellectual property litigator and client counselor. Numerous Fortune 50 clients have relied upon his experience to represent them in highly contentious patent litigation disputes in many different venues, including Texas, Delaware, California, New Jersey, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and the Federal Circuit. His experience includes leading several large joint defense groups in complex...

Chris Ponder Intellectual Property Attorney
Special Counsel

Chris Ponder is a Special Counsel in the Intellectual Property Practice Group in the firm's Silicon Valley office.

Areas of Practice

Mr. Ponder's practice focuses on complex patent and business litigation that often involves competitors. His litigation experience includes conducting and managing fact and expert discovery, and developing claims and defenses. Mr. Ponder has extensive experience in motion advocacy, and routinely argues motions in federal court. He has taken depositions of high-level corporate executives (including a chief operating officer, a chief technology officer, and a general counsel), as well as expert witnesses. He has worked on several inter partes review proceedings related to active district court litigation. 

Mr. Ponder has taken part in jury trials involving patent infringement and other commercial claims. Intellectual property counseling matters have included assisting clients with negotiating and evaluating patent licenses, and evaluating software license agreements, and responding to trademark and copyright infringement issues.


  • Represented leading game developer in an inter partes review proceeding where the PTAB found all challenged claims unpatentable following an unsuccessful IPR challenge by a different game developer

  • Represented leading wearable device company in an inter partes review proceeding where the Patent Owner (a Wi-LAN subsidiary) disclaimed the challenged claims after institution

  • GENBAND US LLC v. Metaswitch Networks Ltd. (E.D. Tex.) – Represented GENBAND in competitor litigation involving trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition counterclaims

  • Elbit Systems Land and C4I Ltd. v. Hughes Network Systems, LLC (E.D. Tex.) –Represented defendants against claims of patent infringement involving satellite communications technologies brought by a major military contractor

  • GENBAND US LLC v. Metaswitch Networks Ltd. (E.D. Tex.) – Represented GENBAND in patent infringement countersuit brought by a competitor involving telecommunications technologies

  • GENBAND US LLC v. Metaswitch Networks Ltd. (E.D.Tex) – Represented GENBAND in patent infringement action against a competitor involving VoIP, media gateway, and session border controller technologies


  • J.D., University of Houston, 2008, magna cum laude Articles Editor, Houston Law Review, Order of the Coif
  • B.S., Computer Science, University of Houston, 2004, cum laude,
  • Member of the Honors College


  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Roy S. Payne of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.


  • California
  • Texas
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas