The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday turned back a constitutional challenge to inter partes review, the administrative procedure for challenging patent validity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

IPRs, as they are known, can be decided in executive agencies rather than Article III courts because patents are public rights, not private rights, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a 7-2 majority. Plus the PTO is essentially reconsidering its decision to issue a patent in the first place. “Congress has permissibly reserved the PTO’s authority to conduct that reconsideration,” Thomas wrote in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy. “Thus, the PTO can do so without violating Article III.”

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