The Supreme Court is More Interested in Being Right Than Shedding Light on 101

By Gene Quinn
January 14, 2020

“Despite everything, the Supreme Court is content because they will not admit they are wrong, nor will they admit that their precedent is completely incongruous and inconsistent. There is no way anyone can apply all Supreme Court precedent on matters of patent eligibility. Some precedent must be ignored in every decision.”

https://depositphotos.com/4033566/stock-photo-lost-in-the-dark.htmlYesterday was a dark day for patent eligibility in America. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in five more petitions relating to patent eligibility challenges. Based on our count, this brings the total number of patent eligibility petitions denied by the Supreme Court to at least 48 since the Court issued its controversial, if not catastrophic, decision in Alice Corporation vs. CLS Bank, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014).

Obviously, the Supreme Court is perfectly comfortable with the status quo as it pertains to the law of patent eligibility. This reality evokes myriad emotions, ranging from despair to outrage to resentment to cynicism to exasperation and finally to a begrudging acceptance. Even with Justice Gorsuch hiring clerks with an intellectual property background – an extreme rarity at the Supreme Court – there seems to be no willingness or desire to clean up the mess this Court created when it ignored the doctrine of stare decisis, several generations of well-established law, and the 1952 Patent Act itself, which had been interpreted by the Supreme Court based on the explicit language of 35 U.S.C. 101 and the legislative history to make “anything under the sun that is made by man” patent eligible. Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (1980) (citing S. Rep. No. 1979, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 5 (1952); H. R. Rep. No. 1923, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 6 (1952)).

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Still Fumbling in the Dark

There have now been at least four-dozen opportunities to shed much needed light on the meaning of abstract idea, a term that neither Supreme Court nor the Federal Circuit have intentionally left undefined. See Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft, Corp., 822 F.3d 1327, 1334-35 (2016). It is alarming that the term abstract idea has remained undefined although it is central to the so-called Alice/Mayo framework. Indeed, patent examiners and judges must determine if a software patent claim is directed to an abstract idea. How can one know if a claim is direct to an abstract idea if the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit refuse to define the key defining term to the inquiry? Based on any logical interpretation of the law the standard is hopelessly infirm due to ambiguity, yet the Supreme Court is content.

At least four-dozen opportunities to shed much needed light on the meaning of significantly more, a term that neither the Supreme Court nor the Federal Circuit have ever defined although it is central to the so-called Alice/Mayo framework because patent examiners and judges must determine if a claim that is directed to a law of nature, natural phenomenon or abstract idea adds significantly more such that the claim is inventive. To the credit of the United States Patent and Trademark Office they have compiled a list of cases and attempt to define significantly more by examples, but the nature of innovation means each innovation is different. Key terms to the decisional framework not being defined is a gross dereliction of duty, yet the Supreme Court is content.

The refusal to define abstract idea and significantly more is just the tip of the iceberg. The Supreme Court also refuses to define the difference between law of nature and natural phenomenon, saying they don’t need to make a distinction. The Supreme Court has also usurped Congressional authority in the Alice/Mayo framework by pulling both novelty and nonobviousness into the section 101 analysis, which allows patent examiners and judges to determine inventiveness (i.e., both novelty and nonobviousness) without comparing the claimed invention to ANY prior art. Further still, the Supreme Court instructed inferior courts and decision makers not to interpret its 101 decisions in a way that would swallow all of patent law, which is precisely what has happened.

And how can anyone know what a claim is directed to, and whether that claim contains significantly more, such that it demonstrates an inventive concept, without doing a full claim construction? The answer is simple – it is impossible to know what a claim covers in terms of inventive concept or is directed to in terms of subject matter without a thorough analysis of the claims, the specification, the prior art and any offered extrinsic evidence. None of that happens when patent claims are denied or invalided as lacking patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101.

Embracing the Incongruous

Despite everything, the Supreme Court is content because they will not admit they are wrong, nor will they admit that their precedent is completely incongruous and inconsistent. There is no way anyone can apply all Supreme Court precedent on matters of patent eligibility. Some precedent must be ignored in every decision, whether it is directly conflicting eligibility precedent, or precedent that says novelty and nonobvious is not to be conflated with patent eligibility. In fact, both the requirement to conflate novelty and nonobviousness (e.g. Mayo) and the requirement that eligibility exclude matters of novelty and nonobviousness (e.g. Diehr) remain good law according to the Supreme Court. Obviously, statements that are completely inapposite cannot be both followed, but that is the mess the Supreme Court has made of patent eligibility specifically, and patent law more generally.

Clearly, the Supreme Court wants Congress to fix the mess they have created. Meanwhile, software suffers, with artificial intelligence and machine learning going overseas. And now we definitively know that medical diagnostics are not patentable in America. These are dark days for patents on commercially relevant technology of consequence in America.

The Four Horsemen, Not Innovation, Advance

One has to wonder if the Supreme Court is capable of appreciating the chaos that has befallen the industry thanks to the Court’s apocalyptic series of patent eligibility cases. Ironically, as Adam Mossoff has commented, the four cases (Bilski, Myriad, Mayo and Alice), like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, have brought destruction in their wake, at least for America. Patent filings are down at the USPTO at a time when they are significantly up all across the world, and not just in Europe and China, but in Africa and the Middle East too. This lost decade in America has already and continues to set the stage for innovation dominance outside the United States. Well done, SCOTUS!

While it has become cliché for the Supreme Court to deny further involvement in patent eligibility as if the law is clear, this latest round of denials by the Supreme Court is different. Continuing to allow medical diagnostics to remain patent ineligible in America is not just bad law – it is stupid. You’d expect a bunch of Ivy League educated jurists to be smarter. Apparently not.

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Copyright: justinkendra 

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 41 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. angry dude January 14, 2020 3:08 pm

    “Some precedent must be ignored in every decision”

    Let me decipher it for the the rest of us without JD degree:

    There is no Patent Law in this country anymore as any US patent on pretty much anything (except the Bunch-o-Balloons… er.. maybe) can be declared invalid based JUST on 101 patent eligibility – the EASIEST way out of litigation for all kinds of infringers
    Forget about patent validity challenges based on novelty (new “prior art”) or non-obviousness, or actual infringement or non-infringement contentions and claim construction …. NOT PATENT ELIGIBLE. PERIOD.

    Mechanical drive shafts, garage door openers etc. etc. etc. are now “abstract concepts”
    and I’m not so sure about Bunch-o-Balloons anymore…

    BUT what it means for the Patent Board in particular is that there is no such profession as “patent attorney” in this country anymore
    Anyone can be “US patent attorney” and produce better results than any of you
    No legal education, no case law study is needed anymore
    Complete chaos
    Wild Wild West

  2. Pro Say January 14, 2020 3:23 pm

    “Stare decisis only applies . . . when it suits our (unconstitutional) mood.”

    – SCOTUS

  3. MaxDrei January 14, 2020 3:56 pm

    My suspicion is that the Justices declined cert because they think:

    1. that it’s the job of the Federal Circuit, not that of a Supreme Court, to flesh out what is or is not an “abstract idea”; and

    2. on medical diagnostics they are embarrassed by their own failure but loth to re-visit, so soon after their own debacle. The Justices have been assured (I suspect) that the remedy lies with inventors: they should simply draft claims more thoughtfully. Time, the great healer, as it were. “Least Said, Soonest Mended” they tell themselves. Not to mention “When in a hole, stop digging”.

  4. Paul Cole January 14, 2020 4:05 pm

    It is gratifying to find how many things in this post follow comments that I have been making for many years – claim construction in particular.

  5. Curious January 14, 2020 4:06 pm

    “a term that neither Supreme Court nor the Federal Circuit have intentionally left undefined”
    Double negative that is the opposite of your intended meaning? Feel free to delete this post afterwards.

  6. BP January 14, 2020 6:44 pm

    SCOTUS intellectuals prefer questions like: “Whether the addition by an online business of a generic top-level domain (“.com”) to an otherwise generic term can create a protectable trademark.”

    Petition Granted, November 2019.

    Prospective holding: As “.com” is an Abstract idea under settled intellectual property law*, it conveys something more than just “booking” though we can’t say exactly what that something is; accordingly, “booking.com” can be registered as a trademark.

    *We have held that anything having to do with software (i.e., “.com”) is an Abstract idea and, while software is ineligible for patenting, a party may find suitable and valuable intellectual property protection for the “brand” of software under trademark law. We also find support in RFC 920 (1984), relating “.com” to the now patent ineligible Abstract idea of the ARPA net:

    While the initial domain name “ARPA” arises from the history of the
    development of this system and environment, in the future most of the
    top level names will be very general categories like “government”,
    “education”, or “commercial”. The motivation is to provide an
    organization name that is free of undesirable semantics.

    Note that our holding today in Booking.com “is free of undesirable semantics” as were our opinions in Mayo and Alice.

    Maybe it is best to leave SCOTUS out of the 101 debate. Perhaps they see no possible way to overcome their gross ignorance as fixed in Mayo and Alice. Let them settle the easy questions like in Booking.com, that’s their speed.

  7. angry dude January 14, 2020 7:47 pm

    Max Drei@3 and Paul Cole@4

    “the remedy lies with inventors”

    Dudes,

    The remedy lies with the Special Prosecutor appointed to investigate and prosecute HIGH CRIMES of the so-called “justices” and “judges” and congress critters and PTAB APJs etc. against the Constitution of the United States of America

    This is HIGH TREASON AND HIGH CORRUPTION … make no mistake

    The beneficiaries and financiers of this are a handful of SV multinationals AND China

    To blame poor mom-and-pop “garage inventors” for this sorry state of affairs is immoral to put it very mildly…

  8. David Lewis January 14, 2020 11:18 pm

    Although I essentially agree with this article. The one silver lining in these denials is it is, potentially, far better if Congress cleans up the mess than the Supreme Court. Because if the Supreme Court cleans up the mess, then many whom filed, wishfully, under the old case law, might find that they have spent a lot of money for naught ( and it sure would have been good to have clarity earlier), as happened after Alice, for example. However, Congress can grandfather in those whom filed under the old case law, so that their actions do not negatively affect them (of course we have been waiting since at least the Flook decision (many decades) for Congress to step in, but that has not happened, yet (although there are some indications that it may finally happen).

  9. MaxDrei January 15, 2020 3:53 am

    Paul Cole at #4 mentions claim construction. So I went back to Gene’s text and picked out this:

    “.. it is impossible to know what a claim covers in terms of inventive concept or is directed to in terms of subject matter without a thorough analysis of the claims, the specification, the prior art and any offered extrinsic evidence”

    Some might argue that there is nothing that drafters and filers can do, to stave off premature failure of an expensive patent application under 35 USC 101, before any such analysis even starts. I disagree. Just as long as the invention can be presented in the specification as the solution to a technical problem, and the claims are then drafted to fit that “story”, all should be fine. The difficulties for prosecution start when what is claimed is a statement of the problem to be solved, as opposed to the invented solution. Agreed?

  10. Anon January 15, 2020 5:12 am

    all should be fine

    The Alfred E Neuman award of the day goes to…

  11. MaxDrei January 15, 2020 7:36 am

    I had to Google “Alfred E Neuman”. Never heard of him. His face though; that I did know. Thanks, anon, for the tip.

    I see that the famous face was described by its discoverer (Kurtzman) as a face that “didn’t have a care in the world, except mischief”. As you know, in my commenting, I try to provoke. So if I may, I’ll take the Award as a compliment.

    But more seriously, the ongoing debate about eligibility and drafting will throw a spotlight on the extremely unfortunate contradiction between drafting RoW style and drafting US-style (as counselled so exhaustively by David Boundy in his recent Paper on “Maximising Patent Value”). I think that any such spotlight would also add value.

  12. Concerned January 15, 2020 7:41 am

    MaxDrei:

    My claims do fit the story of solving a problem beyond the reach of experts and working professionals for decades, the examiner admits the same in writing. Then the examiner states no practical application.

    Apparently claims and solutions that bring a situation into Federal and State law compliance and minimizes financial hardships/loss are not a practical application.

    Dusclaimer: The examiner did toss or not address 11 of the 14 meaning limitations in the representative claim to arrive at his conclusion and to fit “his” story.

  13. Joachim C Martillo January 15, 2020 8:08 am

    Senator Tillis told me the essay entitled, “Preface: Fixing § 101 Requires Fixing § 100” was helpful.

    At this point it is necessary for Congress to tell SCOTUS what an Abstract Idea is within a Constitutional originalist framework.

    My approach to § 100 may not be correct, but it is a starting point and better than whining about SCOTUS’ unwillingness to clean up its mess.

  14. MaxDrei January 15, 2020 9:44 am

    Concerned, from your own words:

    “…bring a situation into Federal and State law compliance and minimizes financial hardships/loss”

    I conclude that the problem solved by your claimed invention is not “technical” by which I mean, not one to be addressed by a person of ordinary skill in a particular field of technology. The international Agreement (GATT-TRIPS) that the USA has ratified, and to which it subscribes, limits patents to inventions within a “field of technology”.

    The USPTO Examiner is serving the American public, when judging whether or not, in your case, to issue a patent. I’m not surprised that the Examiner remains unconvinced.

  15. Anon January 15, 2020 10:56 am

    As you know, in my commenting, I try to provoke. So if I may, I’ll take the Award as a compliment.

    That would be a mistake. “Provoke” by throwing crap against a wall to see what sticks is NOT a good thing. Much better “provoking” (and much more inte11ectually honest dialogue) comes from some recognizing of the issues within the US Sovereign and our laws under discussion. How long now have you “provoked” with your penchant for saying in effect, “here, my glasses work for me, why don’t you use them?”

    Please do not be inte11ectually lazy (to give you an unreasonable level of the benefit of the doubt) or inte11ectually dishonest. NOT taking the time to discuss the US law and its issues on the terms as employeed within the US Sovereign is simply not helpful and tend to obscure rather than illiuminate. One does NOT see that you even grasp the issues at hand with the manner in which you post.

  16. Mark Nowotarski January 15, 2020 11:01 am

    Building on Anon @10 (and I do remember who Alfred E. Neuman was), it seems to me that the best way to address the situation is to embrace the fact that the U.S Supreme Court wants the 101 inquiry to be inherently subjective. They want it to be based primarily on the views and opinions of whoever is reviewing a case. They don’t want that reviewer to be unduly bound by prior precedent.

    So let’s get with the program. The sooner we accept this new reality, the sooner we will be able to adapt to it, and the better we will be able to serve our clients.

  17. Jam January 15, 2020 12:21 pm

    The courts and congress are not safe institutions with which to trust your rights as a small inventor. The courts are more likely to favor the side with the most amicus briefs, which generally is the side with the most money. Congress favors the side with the most campaign contributions. Altruism is nice, but not nearly as nice as campaign contributions. If Big Tech campaign contributions outweigh those of small inventors, then one may expect that the minority of Big Tech companies to be continued to be protected from the tyranny of the majority of small inventors.

    Since the courts have not defined the limits of abstract ideas and natural laws, two fundamental approaches are available. Treat everything as a judicial exception unless the courts say they are not. Or treat nothing as a judicial exception unless the courts say that they are.

    More action is needed from the executive branch to switch over to the second side (i.e., nothing is abstract unless the courts explicitly hold otherwise on a case by case basis). The USPTO should limit the scope of abstract ideas and natural laws exclusively to the facts of those cases. I.e., if an applicant’s or patentee’s claim passes statutory 101 and is patentably distinct from the claims held to be directed to abstract ideas or natural laws, then the claim should be patent eligible.

  18. Joachim Martillo January 15, 2020 12:37 pm

    Here is my suggestion for basic Title 35 changes:

    Fixing the US Patent System (Part I): Title 35 Changes

  19. MaxDrei January 15, 2020 1:36 pm

    anon, at # 15, asks me:

    “How long now have you “provoked” with your penchant for saying in effect, “here, my glasses work for me, why don’t you use them?””

    to which I would answer:

    Not as long as Svante Arrhenius started provoking with his helpful (and by now famous) empirical equation. Nor as long as Isaac Newton offered others the use of his prism, which worked for others just as much as for him, in illuminating the nature of sunlight.

    It’s a small world, these days. It’s got a lot smaller since the USA signed up to such international normalising patent treaties as the Paris Convention and the PCT. patent judges no longer shrink from borrowing useful insights from other jurisdictions.

  20. Concerned January 15, 2020 1:36 pm

    MaxDrei:

    Actually the solution is very technical. The examiner would be more convincing if his arguments would be more truthful.

    For example, the examiner arguing routine, well understood and conventional when it was proven nobody uses the inventive step in any field to include mine.

    Arguing only automates a manual process when none existed to automate or expedite in the history of commerce.

    Arguing no practical application while admitted it solved a problem of 63 years.

    Of course no facts or evidence was supplied by the examiner to rebut or support his position.

    It seems to me if a person has the law on their side, such a person would not resort to such arguments that on the surface appear not truthful or logical.

    As one contributor to this website, who has been through my entire file wrapper stated publicly on this forum “The only way I lose is if 75% of my claims are tossed and they lie”

    Well so far that appears to be the case.

  21. angry dude January 15, 2020 2:53 pm

    Mark Nowotarski@16

    “They want it to be based primarily on the views and opinions of whoever is reviewing a case. They don’t want that reviewer to be unduly bound by prior precedent”

    Dude, that’s a recipe for high corruption… especially if applied retroactively to already issued patents

    “…we will be able to adapt to it, and the better we will be able to serve our clients”

    Nope: you won’t have any (smaller) clients left as far as US patent prosecution is concerned and pretty soon – this is just NOT a good gamble to waste money on

  22. Anon January 15, 2020 4:08 pm

    MaxDrei, @19,

    Do you really think that the crap that you heave rises to a level of natural law?

    My sir, your ego FAR outstrips your intellect.

  23. angry dude January 15, 2020 5:50 pm

    Jam @17

    Dude,

    You do realize that CAFC already explicitly stated they don’t give a f$%^ about PTO’s guidance ?

    Also, about “small inventors”…

    The definition of “small” (meaning “helpless” – without financial resources to fight patent fights) inventor has gradually shifted over the last 13 years from really small mom-and-pop “garage workshops” to small-sized (e.g. 10-100 people) R&D-and patent-dependent companies to billion dollar corporations (see Sonos vs Google)

    The only large beneficiaries of the current US patent system are a handful of really giant SV multinationals like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook etc.

    These bad actors swallowed all of tech and all of 230-year old US Patent system

    With zillions of intended (like me) and unintended (Bunch-o-Balloons could be it ) casualties…

    But the ultimate casualty is US technological competitiveness in this (not so nice lately) global world

    Good job, scotus, cafc, congress, district courts, pto, ptab etc etc !

  24. Cathleen Rocco January 16, 2020 1:26 am

    Sadly the court is little more than the henchmen of whatever political party appointed the majority of justices, since ideology is a prerequisite to nomination.
    As is the case for politics in general, the only question one needs to ask when trying to understand what the court has done is, what political agenda does it serve. That’s the real tragedy, and one that isn’t limited to patent jurisprudence.

  25. Joachim Martillo January 16, 2020 2:19 am

    Angry Dude @23, In the US Constitutional system the CAFC follows the guidance and precedents of SCOTUS in interpreting the law while the CAFC may only defer to the USPTO in matters of fact. It breaks the system if the CAFC does otherwise. The USPTO does not receive Chevron deference.

    Advocates before SCOTUS must make sound Constitutional originalist if they are to obtain any traction.

    We know how the founders understood natural law, natural principle, and natural phenomena. We know how the founders understood praxis. We know how the founders understood what an abstract idea is. There is no mystery in the understanding of late Enlightenment thinkers. SCOTUS has strayed from original intent, meaning, and understanding even as it becomes dominated by Constitutional originalists.

  26. Joachim Martillo January 16, 2020 2:20 am

    Sorry.

    Advocates before SCOTUS must make sound Constitutional originalist arguments if they are to obtain any traction.

  27. concerned January 16, 2020 5:57 am

    Cathleen Rocco:

    Sadly agree. Add in Angry Dude’s suppositions and mix in all the legal arguments of the balance of the posters and there we are.

    And whatever recipe we call the final product, it requires arguments like what I receive in my prosecution that appear unsubstantiated and illogical as an effort to make it look like court driven jurisprudence or the examiner’s personal opinion of jurisprudence.

    I am (naively?) hoping the truth shall set us free.

  28. TFCFM January 16, 2020 11:01 am

    For all the justifiable criticism that the Supreme Court’s section 101 interpretations have drawn, it puzzles me why critics complain that the Supreme Court won’t further stir the pot by wading back into the same waters. Why on earth are we to believe that — if they’ve supposedly muddied the law in their prior decisions — ONE MORE Supreme Court pronouncement on 101 is going to suddenly crystallize and purify eligibility law in a perfect form?

    Even ignoring that fundamental question, I think it hardly advances the ball to grossly misrepresent past precedent, as here:

    GQ: “there seems to be no willingness or desire to clean up the mess this Court created when it ignored the doctrine of stare decisis, several generations of well-established law, and the 1952 Patent Act itself, which had been interpreted by the Supreme Court based on the explicit language of 35 U.S.C. 101 and the legislative history to make “anything under the sun that is made by man” patent eligible. Diamond v. Chakrabarty…

    Chakrabarty was, of course, a mere judicial interpretation (entitled to no greater deference than others, no matter how much one likes citing this line out of context), did not overturn prior 101 precedent, and did not remotely declare “anything goes” patent-eligibility-wise. Properly read, Chakrabarty stands for the (by now unremarkable) proposition that subject matter that is otherwise patentable is not rendered ineligible merely because the subject matter encompasses living matter (other, at least, than a human being… albeit for unrelated reasons developed in unrelated cases).

    That is, the reasons which precipitated the Chakrabarty decision revolved around an informal Patent Office policy had developed, denying eligibility to living things (akin to the non-judicial expansion of the “business methods exception” to eligibility prior to the State Stree Bank decision). In striking down the non-judicial no-patenting-living-things policy, the Federal Circuit’s predecessor stated in its decision, “the fact that micro-organisms are alive is without legal significance for purposes of the patent law,” which is the point that the Supreme Court affirmed — NOT “anything goes.”

    I, for one, have not the slightest confidence that the Supreme Court could — even if granted another swing after its-now-tenth? -twentieth? strike, would knock out of the park a perfectly-enunciated, utterly objective, and impossible-to-misconstrue distillation/integration of whatever incomplete thoughts the legislatures which wrote and amended 101 intended (assuming it intended such a thing at all) as the ‘outer limits’ of patent-eligible subject matter.

    Instead, several technologies (digital processing, biotechnology, human business operations) have advanced to the point where they strain the vague meaning of the mess that previous legislatures left as section 101. It is long past time for the legislature to update section 101 to clearly indicate the criteria it requires for subject matter to be eligible for the grant of a patent.

    I’m guessing that the end result is unlikely to be, “anything goes.”

  29. Model 101 January 16, 2020 11:03 am

    Apple, MicroSoft, BMW ask EU patent office to stop patent trolls article.

    https://www.ft.com/content/26230960-37a7-11ea-a6d3-9a26f8c3cba4

    I wonder how much money this will cost them?

    This leaves small inventors nowhere to run, baby, nowhere to hide!

    China?

  30. MaxDrei January 16, 2020 11:20 am

    Model 101, a few points.

    Your FT article lies behind a Paywall. But without even reading it I can tell you that there is no such thing as any EU Patent Office. The European Patent Office is an artefact of the European Patent Organisation which currently has 38 Member States including such countries as Switzerland and Turkey which are NOT EU Member States. Apple & Co are presumably petitioning the competition office at the EU Commission in Brussels. That Commission is very much interested in furthering the interests of SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises) and has imposed record fines on global titan firms (including, if I remember right, MS and Google).

    As to greasing palms in Brussels, given that the EU Commission is an organ of 28 Member States, it is not quite so easy as in some other places that come to mind, to do it effectively.

  31. angry dude January 16, 2020 12:52 pm

    TFCFM@28

    “Instead, several technologies (digital processing, biotechnology, human business operations) have advanced to the point where they strain the vague meaning of the mess that previous legislatures left as section 101”

    Dude, have a clue, please

    How could digital (signal or image?) processing advance to strain anything other than your (and scotus) brain ?

    It’s basically the same as 55 years ago when Fast Fourier Transform was (re)-invented by Cooley and Tukey which gave a tremendous rise to all kinds of applications on then very slow CPUs.
    CPUs are a lot faster today, and we also have parallel processing algorithms implemented on GPUs, but fundamentally it’s very same technology:
    just adding and multiplying floats or integers – that’s all to it, nothing else other than human ingenuity making possible all kinds of gadgets for brainless lemmings like you to enjoy

    Model 101 @29
    “This leaves small inventors nowhere to run, baby, nowhere to hide!”

    For software or (silicon) hardware developers – there are places to hide: trade secrets and copyrights

    As for patents … fool me once – shame on you, fool me twice – shame on me

    The rest of us, guys and gals with mechanical/electrical inventions which are easy to reverse-engineer, are royally screwed

  32. Mark Nowotarski January 16, 2020 3:42 pm

    Angry dude @21 “this is just NOT a good gamble to waste money on”
    You are right, this is not a good gamble to waste money on. A patent attorney/agent that is sensitive to the new realities, however, can help increase the odds and lower the waste.

    Concerned @27 “I am (naively?) hoping the truth shall set us free.”
    Not naïve at all. Once you know the truth, the way forward is clear.

  33. angry dude January 16, 2020 7:09 pm

    Mark Nowotarski@32

    “A patent attorney/agent that is sensitive to the new realities”

    Dude,

    We are all sensitive to the new “realities” here..

    The problem is “realities” change every day…
    and BTW what you call “realities” are actually “Laws of the Land” …
    … just pause for a second to fully grasp the meaning of this

  34. concerned January 16, 2020 9:30 pm

    And how does a person that has the creativity to invent something nobody else has ever done suddenly think illogically to adjust to the sensitivity of the new realities? Something just seems inherently wrong about that thought.

    Can you imagine Spock substituting “Live long and prosper” with “Die early and poor?” Only if it was episode where the Starship Enterprise landed at 600 Dulany St, Alexandria, VA and Spock filed his patent that cured cancer, solved world hunger and eliminated war using a generic computer attached to a garage door, of course.

  35. TFCFM January 17, 2020 9:57 am

    AD@#31: “How could digital (signal or image?) processing advance to strain anything other than your (and scotus) brain ?

    Straining to make *something* positive of this, I’ll admit that you highlight that I spoke too loosely: Current controversy surrounding eligibility has not been prompted only by technological advances, but also by advances in how “over the line” patent practitioners are willing to assert eligibility. Twenty or thirty years ago, no competent practitioner would advise a client to pursue a claim directed at an abstract concept and no competent examiner would allow one. With the issuance — and subsequent misunderstanding — of “boundary-type” cases like

    State Street Bank (actual holding: subject matter is not ineligible solely because it can be characterized as a ‘business method’; misread holding: business methods are patentable subject matter) and

    Chakrabarty (actual holding: subject matter not ineligible merely because living; misread holding: EVERYTHING is eligible),

    practitioners (some ‘zealously’ representing clients, others merely fools) have pushed-pushed-pushed to expand the boundaries of what the Patent Office can be fooled into allowing. Those efforts, coupled with a statutory provision that limits eligibility to certain categories, but fails to define what the categories mean) has led to the current collisions.

    Where the legislature left boundaries undefined, the Supreme Court has been willing, on several occasions, to say, effectively, that “the legislature surely meant to exclude at least this ___ type of subject matter” (abstract ideas, natural phenomena, no-‘real’-utility, against-public-policy…). Some (quite credibly) argue that the Supreme Court has drawn these “minimum limits” to the undefined boundary wrong. It seems to me that, absent some clear, unmistakable indication of what the “right” boundary should be, the Court is becoming increasingly unwilling to do the legislative job (defining what the limits of the statutory categories are) that the legislature has neglected, so far, to do.

  36. Anon January 17, 2020 2:26 pm

    Post appears to have been lost…

  37. Curious January 17, 2020 5:10 pm

    Twenty or thirty years ago, no competent practitioner would advise a client to pursue a claim directed at an abstract concept and no competent examiner would allow one.
    Blah, blah, blah. I see you use that undefined term of “abstract concept.”

    have pushed-pushed-pushed to expand the boundaries of what the Patent Office can be fooled into allowing
    You, apparently, do not obtain patents for a living. The Patent Office issues patents only after much kicking and screaming. After about (give or take) a couple thousand issued patents to my name, I can say that the Patent Office is very unlikely to be “fooled” into allowing anything.

    Where the legislature left boundaries undefined, the Supreme Court has been willing, on several occasions, to say, effectively, that “the legislature surely meant to exclude at least this ___ type of subject matter”
    So the Supreme Court doesn’t interpret the law — they get to re-write the law. As Anon frequently points out, the power to craft patent law was given to Congress — not the Supreme Court. When garage door openers, propeller shafts, charging stations, and MRI machines are deemed patent ineligible, it is quite evident that whatever dreck the Supreme Court has come up with doesn’t pass the sniff test for most of us. Only the infringer lobby (of which I suspect you are a charter member of) wants those kinds of technologies to be directed to “abstract ideas” or “natural laws.”

    the legislature has neglected, so far, to do
    LOL … there are some politicians who would love to have you as a spokesperson. What a tool … in every sense of the word.

  38. Anon January 18, 2020 9:31 am

    Well stated, Curious.

    My post that has been lost was not as kind (and admittedly, not as eloquent).

  39. Joachim Martillo January 19, 2020 8:57 am

    TFCFM@29, SCOTUS won’t accept a §?101-directed petition for writ of certiorari only to rehash old arguments.

    To attract positive attention from this SCOTUS and to win, a party should make a Constitutional originalist argument. I know such arguments seem rather unusual in patent cases.

    [Unfortunately this SCOTUS dominated by self-avowed originalists seems nevertheless exceptionally clueless with respect to originalist theory. Just read through McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742. While I am agnostic with respect to the individual right to bear arms, I can safely assert that the opinions are vicariously embarrassing to read. The current situation may provide an excellent opportunity for an IP lawyer to explain to SCOTUS how Constitutional originalist thinking applies in a patent case.]

    It is worthwhile to look at Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, from an originalist perspective. Brennan’s Charkrabarty dissent was particularly silly.

    We know the understanding of many if not most founders with respect to living things qua machine. Almost all those that read French knew L’homme machine (Machine Man, 1748) by Julien Offray de La Mettrie. Jefferson explicitly agreed.

    The Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution is expansive.

    Yet the critical clause of the 1790 patent act leaves out process even though patent X000001 (the first US patent) includes a process in its claims.

    [The founders probably used process to signify a set of mechanical, chemical, biochemical, electrical, or electronic operations.]

    I assume the claim is allowed because G. Washington and the examiners probably considered process to be included in improvement. Because many if not most late enlightenment philosophers considered a living organism to be a machine, the 1790 Patent Act and every succeeding patent act allows a patentable claim to a synthetic living organism, which is a machine in the intent, meaning, and understanding of both the founders and also the writers of the 1790 Patent Act.

    Note that inventions in husbandry are not included in the 1790 Patent Act even though the Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution would certainly allow Congress to create a patent to an invention in husbandry.

    And be it further enacted, That if any person or persons shall devise, make, construct, use, employ, or vend within these United States, any art, manufacture, engine, machine or device, or any invention or improvement upon, or in any art, manufacture, engine, machine or device, the sole and exclusive right of which shall be so as aforesaid granted by patent to any person or persons…

    The 1836 Patent Act corrects omission neither of an invention in process nor of an invention in husbandry.

    And be it further enacted, That any person or persons having discovered or invented any new and useful art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement on any art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, not known or used by others before his or their discovery or invention thereof, and not, at the time of his application for a patent, in public use or on sale, with his consent or allowance, as the inventor or discoverer; …

    The Plant Patent Act of 1930 corrects the omission of an invention in husbandry from the then current patent act. It did not address the issue of patentability of a synthetic organism qua machine. This issue had already been decided during the founders’ generation by the 1790 Patent Act, and despite the complete and utter misunderstanding of the USPTO, patent eligibility of a synthetic organism qua machine properly carried through until the current day without an express decision of Congress to remove a synthetic organism qua machine from patent eligibility.

  40. Joachim Martillo January 19, 2020 1:17 pm

    I have to correct myself. In 1790 “useful art” referred to a process or method. We still use the idiom with regard to a supernatural technology like magic. A witch might innovate magical spells or magical arts, which are magical processes or methods.

  41. Anon January 19, 2020 1:38 pm

    Joachim,

    Not to pick a nit, but you are not quite correct in your historical recollection of “art.”

    The modern notion of method includes BOTH the original notion of “art,” as well as the expended notion of ‘process,’ as the Act of 1952 was meant as an expanse of statutory categories to do more than merely reflect the traditional “hard goods” categories (and the Art of bringing about a hard good item).

    So while ‘process’ certainly speaks to having a result, there is nothing in modern patent law that dictates that such a result must be a ‘hard goods’ item.

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