Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) retained Cooley to eliminate a rocket landing patent held by competitor Blue Origin. SpaceX is the first company in history to ship private cargo to the International Space Station and was founded by Elon Musk. SpaceX's revolutionary recoverable launch vehicle program includes plans to land boosters on its "autonomous spaceport drone ship," a custom-built platform on the ocean for landing rockets.
Cooley filed two companion petitions for inter partes review to knock out Blue Origin's barge landing patent. We convinced the Patent Trial and Appeal Board that all claims covered by one petition were likely to be found unpatentable over prior art; the PTAB agreed and decided to institute the IPR. Following the PTAB's institution and its position that SpaceX had shown a "reasonable likelihood" of proving that the invention is unpatentable, Blue Origin caved and asked the PTAB to cancel its patent. The PTAB found the claims covered by the other petition to be too vague to even analyze in an IPR. This was a key victory for SpaceX as it continues to revolutionize space travel.