Uniloc and Apple End IPR Appeal Over Exercise Monitoring Patent

According to an order issued by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, the patent dispute between Uniloc 2017 LLC and Apple Inc. is over after Uniloc filed an unopposed motion to dismiss its appeal of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision. The case concerns the validity of claims in a Uniloc exercise monitoring patent which the PTAB found unpatentable as obvious.

The dispute began when Apple filed a petition for Inter Partes Review (IPR) with the PTAB. In April 2019, the board sided with Apple in finding challenged claims 1–32 of U.S. Patent No. 6,736,759, “Exercise Monitoring System and Methods,” ineligible for patent protection.

According to Uniloc, the ’759 patent “teaches an innovative exercise monitoring system, as well as training and analytical methods useful for subjects performing physical activities.” For example, the claims provide for real-time data and feedback useful to athletes or trainees performing a physical activity with a monitoring system that “may include an electronic positioning device (such as a GPS device) and/or a physiological monitor (such as an oximeter or a heart rate monitor).”

Uniloc appealed the PTAB’s decision. In its February 2020 opening brief to the Federal Circuit, the appellant argued that the board erred by misunderstanding and misapplying the circuit’s interpretation of “displaying real-time data” and in finding that Apple met its burden of demonstrating obviousness based upon prior art. Uniloc also argued that the appointment of administrative patent judges (APJs) violates the Appointments Clause of Article II of the U.S. Constitution, requiring remand of its case to the patent oversight body.

In May, Apple responded that the PTAB’s decision was correct in so far as it was founded on sound conclusions of fact and properly construed terms established by prior art. To Uniloc’s constitutional challenge, Apple argued that circuit precedent foreclosed Uniloc’s contentions.

That precedent was overturned by the Supreme Court on June 21. Two days later, the Federal Circuit directed Uniloc and Apple to brief the Appointments Clause issue in view of the latest development. Uniloc filed its motion to dismiss the case on Aug. 9, stating without more, that the parties agreed to dismissal and to bear their own costs.

Uniloc is represented by Etheridge Law Group PLLC and Apple by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.