If someone told me when starting my career in 1976 that I would discover a process that has been beyond the reach of professionals and experts for over 62 years, I would have laughed. If the same person also told me that it would be virtually impossible to protect that discovery with a patent in the United States of America, I would have been equally dismayed. The preceding scenario is exactly what is being experienced by many inventors and me. I am a common person who caught lightning in a bottle with an invention, only to be frustrated by the patent system in the United States and left wondering can I hold on long enough until the madness stops?
My invention is patent application #14/450,042 and it represents a process that discovers overlooked Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefits for adult people with a disability prior to age 22. Please note that Medicare benefits also become available when eligible for the monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefits. Accordingly, when the Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit is overlooked, so is the Medicare coverage for the person with a disability.
The oversights occur because the eligibility is the working record of the parent of that adult child. The Social Security Administration cannot simply run the Social Security number of the adult child to successfully determine the Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit. In addition, the working parent needs to be retired, disabled, or deceased to trigger the benefit for their adult child, and those triggering events cause their own set of problems in the process.
The Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit process is further complicated upon submission of the parent’s own Social Security retirement benefit application, to wit:
- Unawareness- The retiring working parent fails to name their disabled adult child on the Social Security application. It is beyond the general public’s comprehension that an adult child age 40 could possibly be eligible for Social Security from the parent’s work record. The child may have never worked and possibly has not been in the parent’s household for over 30 years (institutionalized)
- Divorce- The working parent divorced both the custodial parent (spouse) and basically divorced the children. The wage earner had no further association with either of them and skips the question regarding adult children
- Fraud- The working parent intentionally omits the adult child to affect more benefits for other household members. The wage earner’s benefits are never affected but payments to other household members can be reduced up to 50% with additional claimants, hence, the motive to commit fraud and omit the non-household adult child
The professionals at the Social Security Administration, as well as disability attorneys, have been trying to solve the problem of Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit oversights since the inception of the Social Security Disability Insurance program in 1956. The fact that the solution has eluded trained professionals for decades speaks to the depth of the problem. The solution is simply not the cross matching of a couple records as over characterized during my patent prosecution.
Solving the Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit problem ensures that the adult child with a disability gets their rightful benefit as intended by Congress. The solution also saves both the Federal/State governments substantial Medicaid expense and mitigates overpayments to other household members. A patent examination needs to be mindful of the consequences revealed by these problems to properly measure the desire to find this solution. The situation is not just some abstract idea that can be willfully solved by a person’s thought process or the professionals would have easily done the same decades ago.
The person with a disability has less income and less medical treatment choices from these oversights. Those circumstances often lead to lawsuits against the States by the United States Justice Department regarding inappropriate treatment settings, an “unofficial” euphemism for lack of funding caused in part from these oversights. My State (Ohio) is currently being sued and many other States have entered into an agreement with the Justice Department.
The oversights cause extra Medicaid expense that is absorbed by the Federal and State governments. The extra expense is substantially more than the rightful payment of the Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare benefits.
The overpayments to other household members require the Social Security Administration to drastically reduced future benefits and recover perhaps tens of thousands of overpaid dollars representing as little as 3 years of overpayments. The preceding revelation is quite a shock to people on fixed incomes who made retirement decisions based on erroneous information received from the Social Security Administration that was a by-product of an unintentional oversight.
All the above information was thoroughly explained to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Also included in the application process was documentation to support the fact that my invention is novel, non-obvious to skilled people in my profession and represents a whole new approach to solving this oversight problem. The documents placed into my record are:
- Independent third-party studies from two accredited universities authored by experts with 25 years and 35 years in the field
- A Social Security benefit application
- A Social Security handbook
- The Medicaid applications from each of the 50 states in our nation
Imagine my shock when the United States Patent and Trademark Office notified me that my application for patent was being rejected on the grounds the process is deemed an abstract idea that is routine, well understood and conventional based on court cases that have nothing to do with my field of technology. Since none of my patent claims are done by the Social Security Administration or disability attorneys, as proved by the supporting documentation, how can my process be routine, well understood and conventional based on conclusions from other fields of technology?
First and foremost, the United States Patent and Trademark Office regulations are clear that determinations of routine, well understood and conventional are based on my field of technology. Hard evidence within my field of technology should never be overruled by court cases from other fields of technologies. All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles is a good analogy as to why the United States Patent and Trademark Office regulations rightfully emphasize the same field of technology for comparison.
Secondly, the dictionary defines an abstract idea as existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence. The abstract idea is the routine benefit processing of the Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit as conceived by Congress. Correcting oversights made by family members and professionals is not the abstract idea. Professionals do not go to work with the “alleged” abstract idea of making oversights that cost their employer substantial amounts of money and further cause households financial grief. Labeling my invention as an abstract idea is not correct, not factual or logical on the surface, professionals do not make mistakes on an intentional or abstract basis.
Thirdly, my patent application was very clear that the discovered process was only addressing the correction of those Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit oversights, not the pre-emption of routine Social Security Disability Insurance (S.S.D.I.) benefit processing per Claim #22, which reads as follows:
The computerized method for determining overlooked eligibility for social security disability insurance (SSDI)/adult child benefits through a computer network in Claim 1, wherein the SSDI adult child benefit eligibility has been overlooked in the parent’s or spouse’s routine social security application process due to inaccurate information, or lack of information during said application process, or the person’s SSDI adult child application was not properly pursued due to parent’s or spouse’s death was overlooked by parties associated with a disabled adult child
My patent examiner refused to acknowledge or address my evidence that was submitted into record proving the process is not routine, well understood or conventional in my field of technology; nor did the patent examiner recognize or acknowledge that the process only addresses the oversights.
I started searching for the real reason why my patent application was rejected since the explanation for rejection did not reconcile with the overwhelming evidence on record and the fact that my process was rectifying a problem in existence since 1956. It did not take long to discover that the real reason for my rejection is software patents and their anti-patent bias by people of authority, regardless of what is being accomplished by the software process or what the law states verbatim.
This anti-patent bias toward software is illustrated in many ways. The Supreme Court of the United States added the words “abstract” and “significantly more” to 35 U.S. Code § 101 and did not define such terms. Previously 35 U.S. Code § 101 granted patents in the past and now 35 U.S. Code § 101 has become a provision to deny software patents on a wholesale basis. The added judicial exceptions were not approved by Congress, the law still reads the same, the added and undefined terms were legislated from the judicial bench. Something is inherently wrong with this situation from a common person’s viewpoint.
In addition, software patents previously granted are now being squashed via a legal process void of evidence or facts. The rescinding of patents without fact or evidence got so bad that the Berkheimer appeals court had to remind everyone in 2018 that facts and evidence do matter in a legal setting, an observation a common person like myself would just assume should happen. Yet, in my patent application, the evidence is still not even acknowledged, addressed or given any weight, equaling a real-life testimony to the Berkheimer court’s point.
Crucial aspects from landmark cases, such as the Alice and Electric Power Group, are not embraced that would help patent software claims. Both court case decisions stated concrete steps that described a specific way to solve a problem are patentable, unlike situations where a computer was merely used as a tool to perform an existing process. The fact that my process uses concrete steps to solve a 62-year problem seemed meaningless in my patent prosecution. It appeared only ways to deny and trivialize my application were important, using bits and pieces from court cases outside my field of technology, which seems like a form of disrespect to the professionals and experts in my field of technology.
Official United States Patent and Trademark Office memorandums from Robert W. Bahr, Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy were not given consideration in support of my application. Deputy Commissioner Bahr’s November 2, 2016 memorandum confirmed that claims describing a specific way to solve a problem are patentable and that evidence/facts do matter per the Berkheimer court (April 19, 2018 memorandum). These memorandums only seem to serve some kind of “official” purpose in my patent prosecution without any application of their intent.
How bad is the patent situation in the United States? Is my rejection the rule or the exception? The answer can be found in the level of evidence to support of my patent application. How many patent applicants have independent studies from 2 accredited universities to prove their case, not many I suspect?
Going a step further. How many patent applications have documentation from every one of their competitors or end users proving no one is doing their patent application process, again not many? I have documents from every State (my competitors/end-users) proving that my invented process was a first ever solution that nobody is doing.
My patent application was rejected with both the 2 university studies and documentation from all my competitors/end users. If I have no chance to get a patent, neither would other inventors with less evidence. Software patent applications might as well be declared dead on arrival in this country. To add insult to injury, then I learn that the preceding level of evidence is the expectation for the patent examiner to have to rebut and reject my application. No hard evidence was given to support a rejection, a very unequal or no application of law.
Frankly, I compare the on-going patent situation in this country to the subprime mortgage crisis. The insiders knew what was going on and deep down the insiders knew subprime mortgages could not be sustained. The subprime mortgage crisis was only addressed when it threatened the entire country and almost brought financial collapse to the United States.
I do not see the current patent situation in this country sustaining itself and it will end poorly if not addressed by Congress. Obstacles should be removed to assist inventors with solutions to society’s problems, not the converse situation of adding restrictions without the consent of Congress.
Addressing my patent situation individually is not the answer, it would just be a band aid. Clear and concise direction needs to be given from Congress to ensure a consistent framework to provide incentive to create and invent. Rule of law needs to be ensured to put all parties on the same page. Ironically, all this uncertainty in the patent community is not even helping those thinking about running off with my idea. The potential infringers know this patent situation cannot be sustained and that they might face substantial legal settlements like in the subprime mortgage crisis when the situation corrects, a fair risk/reward analysis.
In the meantime, I can only go up the appeal ladder and hope for a miracle to come in time, which seems to be a grim prospect in the current legal environment. Many legal scholars and jurists share the view that my appeals are entering the “(patent) killing fields” a coined outcry from a federal judge.
And back to my original question: Can I hold on long enough until the madness stops?
Image Source: Deposit Photos.