Administrative Procedures Act : US PTO Litigation Alert™

The Patent Office Can Commiserate With the ITC In Administrative Procedure Act Woes

Cindy Chen | August 8, 2014

Align Technology, Inc. v. ITC

July 18, 2014

Federal agencies such as the International Trade Commission and the United States Patent and Trademark Office enjoy broad administrative authority, and in the case of the ITC, independence. [1] These agencies’ authority, though broad, is not unbounded. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) reins in that authority by allowing courts to vacate agency decisions that are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” up U.S.C. §706(2)(A). Align Technology v. ITC marks an instance where a federal agency is found to have overstepped its broad authority.

Align Technology, Inc. owns patents relating to dental aligners. As teeth are unique, dental aligners must be custom-designed for each patient. Align’s patents disclose various methods of obtaining data to determine the positioning of a patient’s teeth for the purpose of creating a three-dimensional digital model of the teeth. Digital data are then extracted from the three-dimensional digital model as blueprints for manufacturing successive dental aligners to incrementally move the patient’s teeth to their desired alignment.
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