The “hybrid” procedure of inter partes review has been considered since its inception by some to be litigation at occurs at the patent office, rather than in district court. The designation of IPRs and other procedures as “patent office trials” by the America Invents Act (AIA), as well as adherence to the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) in many instances helped contribute to this sentiment. However, in Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, No. 15-446 (June 20, 2016), the Supreme Court put this notion to rest, concluding that, “in  significant respects, inter parties review is less like a judicial proceeding and more like a specialized agency proceeding.”
In Cuozzo, the Court upheld the prior Federal Circuit decision, in which Cuozzo had challenged – and lost – on two procedural aspects of inter partes review: (1) the reviewability of the Board’s institution decisions and (2) the use of a “broadest reasonable construction” (BRC) standard in claim construction.