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Blow to AI, Clarity for Humans: Key Insights from the DABUS Rulings

The August 2019 announcement that two patent applications had been filed naming an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm as an inventor in the United States and a dozen other countries was regarded as disruptive and profound at the time. It was one of the hot topics in patent law during those last few months before the pandemic. But since then, given all the other crazy and disorienting stuff that has happened in the world, we have become desensitized to the question, even if it is just as radical and important today. To be sure, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s August 5 ruling that an “inventor” must, under the Patent Act, always be a human being, would seem to definitively resolve the question. As a matter of existing and clearly settled law, Stephen Thaler’s AI machine, DABUS, cannot be a named inventor on his applications for a fractal-shaped beverage container and a neural flame, like we always thought in the Before Times. It’s time to relegate this parlor-game discussion to the same recycle bin as Beeple’s non-fungible token (NFT), The Tiger King, and so many other viral distractions. Or, perhaps, not so fast.

A Plea to Senator Tillis: Words Matter in Section 101 Reform

In U.S. government, setting public policy is the sole and exclusive domain of Congress. The laws they pass effectuate the public policy positions that Congress alone has the power to set. In law, words are everything. The precise meaning of the words in law determines whether the public policy is implemented as intended by Congress. Altering the meaning of just one word can change the entire public policy set by Congress, even turning the public policy on its head. Anyone following the debate on patent eligibility can attest to how the Supreme Court’s redefinition of the word “any” in 35 U.S.C. § 101 to have an exception called an “abstract idea” caused a significant public policy change and that change destroyed countless startups, especially those in tech. Senator Tillis’ Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, wrongly puts the courts in charge of defining public policy because it leaves key words completely undefined.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: How Ray Young is Fighting Content Theft Encouraged by Big Tech Platforms

Ray Young started RightsLedger.com to give creators control of their content and opportunities for IP monetization, using blockchain technology to authenticate ownership. His latest venture, Milio.io, is the first social media platform to fairly share advertising revenue with users, and already has over a million users. Young spent over two years, since Dec 2019, in Manila working on the company’s launch and is focused on rewarding small and independent content creators with the ability to both protect and monetize their IP. I spoke with Young to better understand how he is helping creators to safeguard and profit from their content online.

Dissent Today, Majority Tomorrow—A Federal Circuit Approach to Rehearing

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat! That is precisely what the Federal Circuit did for HEC Pharm Co. recently in Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Accord Healthcare Inc. et al (No. 2021-1070). In what can only be characterized as an astonishingly unprecedented procedural betrayal of justice, Novartis recently found itself on the losing side of a request for panel rehearing. Save for a moment just how extraordinarily uncommon it is for the Federal Circuit to grant panel rehearing, and likewise save for a moment how extremely uncommon it is for the Federal Circuit to overrule a prior panel decision even when a panel rehearing is granted. But in Novartis Pharmaceuticals v. Accord Healthcare, neither of the panel members in the majority of the original opinion even agreed to rehear the case, let alone agreed to reverse their prior ruling.

Studebaker & Brackett is Hiring a Patent Attorney or Agent

Studebaker Brackett PC, a growing patent firm located in Tysons, VA, and a short walk from the Greensboro Metro Station/Silver Line, seeks a qualified, experienced Patent Attorney or Agent for primarily handling patent preparation and prosecution.

Unleashing the Power of AI to Fight Bad Faith Trademark Registrations

Summer has been historically associated with celebrating the enactment of the Trademark Act of 1946 (the “Lanham Act”). Accordingly, Congress now annually introduces resolutions celebrating July, along with Independence, as “anti-counterfeiting awareness month.” These non-binding resolutions are an important reminder of the national importance of trademarks—and a reminder that counterfeiting, and related bad faith trademark misconduct, negatively impacts U.S. small businesses, American jobs, the U.S. economy, and erodes our international competitiveness. Increasingly, brand owners are fighting numerous trademark issues around bad faith registrations and more artful counterfeiting every day of every month. Fortunately, one important element of the solution for restoring the integrity of the register are the tools made possible by responsible artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) image recognition technology that can fight the fakes.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, August 5: Win for AbbVie at Seventh Circuit; Eleventh Circuit Affirms Ruling for Monster Energy; and Ninth Circuit Reverses Fair Use Finding in Death Valley Lake Photo Case

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Senators Thom Tillis and Patrick Leahy introduce a bill to improve patent examination and quality, while Tillis’ office also releases a draft bill on Section 101 patent eligibility; the Ninth Circuit reverses a district court’s summary judgment ruling that the unauthorized use of photos of a lake in Death Valley was a fair use; Amazon will acquire robotics firm iRobot for $1.7 billion; the Seventh Circuit nixes antitrust claims against AbbVie after finding nothing improper with the company’s large number of patents covering Humira; the Eleventh Circuit affirms a lower court’s decision to strike an actual damages claim in a trademark case against Monster Energy as a discovery sanction; the bipartisan PLAN for Broadband Act is introduced to develop a cohesive national strategy for broadband infrastructure; and the USITC begins a formal enforcement proceeding against The Chamberlain Group after finding violations of Section 337 for patent infringement.

CAFC ‘Unambiguously’ Backs USPTO in AI as Inventor Fight

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled today in Thaler v. Vidal that an artificial intelligence (AI) machine does not qualify as an inventor under the Patent Act. The decision is the latest in a series of rulings around the world considering the topic, most of which have found similarly. Judge Stark authored the opinion.

Federal Circuit Affirms Water Heater Infringement Ruling Based on District Court Claim Construction

On August 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a decision in A. O. Smith Corp. v. Bradford White Corp. which affirmed rulings from the District of Delaware that A. O. Smith’s patent covering a hot-water heater system was both infringed by Bradford White and not invalid. The appellate court ruled that the district court’s construction of a contested limitation within claim 1 was supported by the patent’s specification. Judge Timothy Dyk concurred with the majority’s ruling but argued that the majority should have based its decision to affirm claim construction on evidentiary findings made by the district court.

The Federal Circuit’s ‘CAR T-Cell’ Decision: Courting a Disaster for American Innovation

The only president ever to obtain one, Abraham Lincoln knew the essential role patents have played in the scientific and technological innovations that have driven American growth and prosperity since the founding of the republic. Lincoln listed the development of patent laws—along with the invention of writing and the discovery of America—among the most important events in world history. Patents have “peculiar value…in facilitating all other inventions and discoveries,” he said in a speech in 1858. Giving inventors exclusive use of their inventions for a limited time, “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.” What was true a century and a half ago remains true today. But a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is threatening to bank the fire and limit the inventions of the future. Last August, a three-judge Circuit Court panel invalidated Sloan Kettering’s patent for its CAR T-cell cancer immunotherapy and overturned the $1.2 billion awarded Sloan Kettering and its partner and exclusive licensee, Juno Therapeutics, after a jury trial found Kite Pharma had infringed upon the patent. The court, en banc, refused to reconsider the ruling.

Eleventh Circuit Upholds Sanctions in Energy Drink Dispute for Failure to Provide Computation of Damages

On Wednesday, August 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s ruling against Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (VPX) in the form of sanctions for violating its discovery obligations in a trade dress dispute with Monster Energy Company. The Eleventh Circuit also denied Monster’s motion for sanctions in the form of attorney’s fees and double costs.

CAFC Upholds PTAB’s Finding that Samsung Failed to Prove Magnetic Stripe Emulator Claims Obvious

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Tuesday affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruling that Samsung Electronics had failed to prove certain claims of Dynamics, Inc.’s patent for a magnetic stripe emulator that communicates with credit card readers unpatentable as obvious. Samsung petitioned the PTAB for inter partes review (IPR) of claims 1 and 5-8 of U.S. Patent No. 8,827,153. The patent is directed to “magnetic stripe emulators” for “generat[ing] electromagnetic fields that directly communicate data to a read-head of a magnetic stripe reader,” such as the magnetic stripes on credit cards. Samsung argued that the claims would have been obvious over U.S. Patent No. 4,868,376 (Lessin) and U.S. Patent No. 7,690,580 (Shoemaker), or alternatively, would have been obvious over U.S. Patent No. 6,206,293 (Gutman) in view of Shoemaker.

Jones Day is Seeking a Trademark Assistant

Jones Day is seeking a Trademark Assistant for their New York City office/team. The Trademark Assistant is responsible for preparing and filing trademark applications via the USPTO and the Madrid Protocol (plus draft instructions to foreign counsel for filing of trademarks applications); preparing and filing electronic prosecution and maintenance documents in the USPTO including responses to office actions, statements of use, extensions of time, petitions to divide, renewal applications, declarations of use, declarations of incontestability, excusable nonuse declarations and any other related trademark filings. The Trademark Assistant must support firm attorneys in connection with client trademark portfolios and prepare trademark portfolio reports/charts based on Firm database software and manage Firm docket/monitor U.S. and foreign trademark deadlines. This is a full-time, permanent position.

Tillis’ Promised Patent Eligibility Bill Would Overrule Myriad, Mayo

Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee, released the first draft of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, which if enacted would, at a minimum, overrule the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012)…. This legislation would absolutely be a solution to many of the patent eligibility problems that have plagued the industry for the last decade. Of course, if the tech giants in Silicon Valley think this will hurt them the bill will be killed, period.

A Cautious Welcome: Patent Community Chimes in on Tillis’ Eligibility Bill

This morning, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, which would amend the U.S. Patent Act to clarify the application of 35 U.S.C. Section 101 to certain technologies. While the bill was welcomed by many in the intellectual property (IP) community, since it would abrogate or weaken many of the seminal decisions that have arguably caused confusion on eligibility over the last decade-plus, some have called the bill out as being far from perfect. Questions remain with respect to the text’s language regarding the definition of “technological” and what it means for software patents, for instance, as some commenters note below.