Posts Tagged: "abstract"

Federal Circuit Kills PersonalWeb’s ‘Content-Based Identifier’ Patent Claims Under 101

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granting judgment on the pleadings to Google, Facebook, EMC Corporation and VMware, Inc. that PersonalWeb Technologies’  patent claims were ineligible under Section 101. The decision was precedential and written by Judge Prost. The case has a long history and the CAFC has dealt with the patented technology before. The specific patents at issue here are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,802,310 (“the ’310 patent”), 6,415,280 (“the ’280 patent”), and 7,949,662 (“the ’662 patent”). The patents generally cover “data-processing systems that assign each data item a substantially unique name that depends on the item’s content—a content-based identifier.”

CAFC Affirms PTAB Rejection of Stanford Haplotype Phasing Patent Claims Under Alice

On March 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to hold the rejected claims from Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford) were not patent eligible because the claims are drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling. The examiner rejected claims 1, 4 to 11, 14 to 25, and 27 to 30 of U.S. Application Nos. 13/445,925 (‘925 application), “methods and computing systems for determining haplotype phase,” for involving patent ineligible subject matter. The CAFC applied the two-step framework under Alice v. CLS Bank to determine whether the claims were patent eligible.  

Cybergenetics Appeals Ohio Federal Judge Ruling that Alice Kills DNA Analysis Patents

On October 13, 2020, Cybergenetics filed a notice of appeal to the Federal Circuit from a decision of the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, that held the patent claims asserted by Cybergenetics invalid under 35 U.S.C. 101, and granting the defendant’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.  Cybergenetics’ brief on appeal is due December 28, 2020.

District Court Finds Google Patent Ineligible Under Alice

On November 2, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in Google LLC v. Sonos, Inc., issued an order granting Sonos’s motion to dismiss a cause of action for infringement of Google’s U.S. Patent No. 8,583,489 (the ‘489 patent). The court found that the ‘489 patent was patent ineligible as being directed to an abstract idea. Google filed a patent infringement suit against Sonos alleging that Sonos infringed five of Google’s patents, including the ‘489 patent, which is directed to systems and methods for bookmarking media content for future availability. Sonos moved to dismiss the cause of action with respect to the ‘489 patent on the ground that it was directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as an abstract idea. The ‘489 patent relates to a method of “determining if media content is available from different content sources” and “notifying a user when the availability of the media content changes.”

CAFC Finds Claim for Delivery Notification System Abstract as Directed to a Longstanding Commercial Practice

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision of the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC. v. ShoppersChoice.com, LLC. In particular, Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC (ECT) sued ShoppersChoice for infringement of claim 11 of U.S. Patent No. 9,373,261 (“the ’261 patent”) in the district court. The district court granted ShoppersChoice’s motion for summary judgment that claim 11 of the ’261 patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. ECT appealed and the CAFC affirmed. Judge Prost delivered the opinion for the Court.

Uniloc Patent Claims Vindicated Under Alice at Federal Circuit

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Moore, reversed and remanded a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which had found that certain claims of Uniloc’s U.S. Patent No. 6,993,049 were ineligible under Section 101 as being directed to an abstract idea. The Federal Circuit disagreed, holding that the claims at issue were directed to a “patent-eligible improvement to computer functionality.”

Chamberlain Petitions Full Federal Circuit to Correct Appellate Overstep on Patent Eligibility

As anticipated, the Chamberlain Group, Inc., in a corrected petition for rehearing filed today, asked an en banc panel of the Federal Circuit to reconsider its August 21 precedential decision, which in part reversed a district court’s finding that certain claims of Chamberlain’s patent for a “moveable barrier operator” (for example, a garage door opener) were not abstract under Section 101.  “Not only did the panel err in resolving [Alice] step two in the first instance, it misapplied an essential requirement of step two,” says the Chamberlain petition. In addition to contradicting its own assertions that appellate courts should not conduct fact-finding, the Federal Circuit’s approach conflates Alice steps one and two, “focusing the step two inquiry on the abstract idea itself, disregarding the ‘additional elements’ inquiry of Alice,” the petition adds.

Federal Circuit Is Hesitant to Construe Patent Claims in the First Instance on Appeal

The Federal Circuit recently vacated and remanded a decision by the Northern District of California granting a motion on the pleadings that claims related to “toolbars” on computers were ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Court, holding that the district court failed to address a claim construction dispute, was “hesitant to construe patent claims in the first instance on appeal” and remanded for further proceedings. Judge Lourie authored a dissent, finding the claims to be “clearly abstract, regardless of claim construction,” and opined that he would have affirmed the district court’s holding. See MyMail, Ltd. v. ooVoo, LLC, Nos. 2018-1758, 2018-1759, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 24430 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2019) (Before Lourie, O’Malley, and Reyna, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Reyna, Circuit Judge) (Dissenting opinion, Lourie, Circuit Judge).

Note to the Federal Circuit: Spewing Illogical Nonsense Does Not Make It True

The Federal Circuit recently reversed the District of Minnesota’s denial of summary judgment in Solutran, Inc. v. Elavon, Inc., Nos. 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22516 (Fed. Cir. July 30, 2019) (Before Chen, Hughes, and Stoll, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Chen, Circuit Judge), holding that the claims at issue, which related to processing paper checks, were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The physicality of the limitations of the claims did not save the claims. See Physicality of Processing Paper Checks Does Not Save Solutran’s Claims. “[W]e have previously explained that merely reciting an abstract idea by itself in a claim—even if the idea is novel and non-obvious—is not enough to save it from ineligibility,” Judge Raymond Chen of the Federal Circuit explained for the majority. The Federal Circuit can state that proposition until every single judge is blue in the face and there will be one exhausting, inescapable truth—it is wrong! Indeed, this logical impossibility is written into so many Federal Circuit decisions one must wonder how it is possible any of the judges who believe this nonsense were ever able to achieve an acceptable score on the LSAT in order to gain admission to law school in the first place.

Federal Circuit Nixes Claims for Garage Door Opener as Abstract Under Alice

A Federal Circuit panel comprising Judges Lourie, O’Malley and Chen issued a precedential opinion yesterday, August 21, in part reversing a district court’s finding that certain claims of Chamberlain Group, Inc.’s (CGI’s) patent for a “moveable barrier operator” (for example, a garage door opener) were not abstract under Section 101. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied Techtronic Industries’ (TTI’s) motion for judgment as a matter of law that the asserted claims were patent-ineligible and granted CGI’s motions for enhanced damages and attorney fees. The district court disagreed with TTI’s assertion that the claims at issue were directed to the abstract idea of wireless transmission of content, instead finding that “[h]ere, the ’275 patent claims are not directed to the transmission of data, but to garage door openers that wirelessly transmit status information.”

Federal Circuit Cellspin Ruling Provides Important Clarifications on Aatrix and Berkheimer

On June 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in Cellspin Soft, Inc. v. Fitbit, Inc. (2018-1817, 2018-1819 to 1826), reversing a district court’s grant of various Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss complaints that alleged patent infringement based on U.S. Pat. No. 8,738,794 (the ’794 patent), U.S. Pat. No. 8,892,752 (the ’752 patent), U.S. Pat. No. 9,258,698 (the ’698 patent), and U.S. Pat. No. 9,749,847 (the ’847 patent). The Federal Circuit did so because the district court misconstrued precedent from both Aatrix Software, Inc. v. Green Shades Software, Inc., 882 F.3d 1121 (Fed. Cir. 2018) and Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018). The Federal Circuit panel consisted of Judges Lourie, O’Malley, and Taranto. Judge O’Malley authored the panel’s opinion. he Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the claims were directed to an abstract idea but reversed anyway on the basis of the district court failing to conduct a proper Alice step two. This was because the district court ignored Cellspin’s factual allegations that, when properly accepted as true, precluded the grant of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.

How the EPO and USPTO Guidance Will Help Shape the Examination of Artificial Intelligence Inventions

It is safe to say that Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are hot topics and, as with any rapidly growing technological area on the industry side, there is also a rapidly growing number of patent applications being filed.In view of this, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued new guidance for examination for AI and ML patent applications in November 2018. Meanwhile, in January 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also issued revised guidance directed to what constitutes patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101. Although the USPTO’s revised guidance is more generally directed to software applications, at least one of the accompanying hypothetical examples (Example 39) is directed to the AI and ML space. Therefore, while there may be lingering concerns that AI and ML inventions will face extra scrutiny toward patentability due to their software-centric nature, the extra attention that the EPO and USPTO are paying toward AI and ML will likely help swing the pendulum of patentable subject matter toward a place that is in harmony with the current state of technology. The below analysis reviews the recent developments by the EPO and the USPTO to provide specific guidance on the topic of AI and ML.

Revised Patent Eligibility Guidance Effectively Defines What is an Abstract Idea

In essence, by narrowly identifying certain subject matter groups as being those that properly qualify for characterization as abstract ideas the USPTO is effectively defining what is and what is not an abstract idea, thereby filling a void intentionally left ambiguous by both the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit. It has been frustrating — to say the least — that courts have refused to define the term abstract idea despite that being the critical term in the Supreme Court’s extra-statutory patent eligibility test. Without a definition for the term abstract idea rulings have been nothing short of subjective; some would even say arbitrary and capricious.

Abstractness is not the malleable concept the Supreme Court thinks

If the claim is directed to an abstract idea, then abstractness is an essential property of the claimed subject matter as a whole. As such, a claim directed to an abstract idea cannot be transformed to possess non-abstractness by whether or not it embodies an inventive concept, since whether the inventive concept is inventive or not depends upon when the concept was conceived, which is an accidental property rather than an essential property of the claimed subject matter… Mayo may make sense for natural laws and physical phenomena but given the very different nature of abstract ideas the test logically falls apart when one thinks they can turn something that is by its fundamental nature abstract into something that is not abstract.

Can I hold on long enough until the madness stops?

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?