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Posts Tagged: "Alice Corp."

Fall Line Asserts Seemingly Invalid Patent Against a Host of Major Companies

On August 15, 2018, Fall Line Patents, LLC asserted U.S. Patent No. 9,454,748 against a number of companies. Specifically, Fall Line alleged in nine separate lawsuits that the mobile applications provided by AMC Entertainment, McDonald’s, Boston Market, Panda Express, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Regal Cinemas, Starbucks, and Zoe’s Kitchen directly infringe at least Claim 1 of the ‘748 patent. All of the lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Texas and request permanent injunctions as well as damages.

Software Patent-Eligible Subject Matter: Claiming Improvements in Computer Functionality

Particularize the claims.  This helps overcome the “abstract” part of a 101 rejection. Put details into the claims to define the steps performed in the software and hardware to a granular degree.  Don’t claim a result; claim the steps performed in accomplishing the result. That is, define the software computer program and hardware in discrete steps. Define what’s going on in each step of the computer program code. Go to the level of a software design engineer that annotates their code, to inform others as to what’s going on in the code.  If there is an algorithm claimed, particularize the claims to include the steps performed in implementing the algorithm.

Open Letter Exaggerates the Benefits of Recent Patent Reforms

HTIA’s letter argues that venture capital funding and startup activity have grown in recent years, further proof of their view that the federal government has properly pursued patent system reforms. Using data tools available through PwC MoneyTree, the HTIA cites data indicating that venture capital investments in the U.S. have increased from $32.8 billion in 2012 up to $61 billion in 2016, representing an 86 percent increase in that time. Of course, the letter easily lets go of the fact that the graph shows that venture capital funding actually dropped significantly by about $15 billion between 2015 and 2016 alone, a point the HTIA’s own data graphs prove. As for startup activity, the HTIA collected data from the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity to make its argument that startup activity has increased by 194 percent between 2012 and 2016. Again, there’s no acknowledgement of a concerning recent data point, here the absolute stagnation of new startup activity between 2015 and 2016.

Would Monopoly® be patent ineligible under Alice?

One particularly disconcerting and largely unpredictable aspect of Alice is how it has been used to render games patent ineligible. This type of Alice-creep is particularly disconcerting because it ignores the primary concern of the Supreme Court in Mayo. Much of the 101 patent eligibility mischief we now experience can be traced back directly to Mayo v. Prometheus, where the Supreme Court ruled that conventional steps are not enough to transform a law of nature into a patent eligible process… Given that the Alice framework is really the Mayo framework applied to abstract ideas instead of laws of nature, why should Alice ever be used to deal with a process that a patent examiner acknowledges is new, non-obvious and appropriately described? It would seem that Alice simply has no relevance in such a circumstance.

Polling the Bar: An Unscientific Survey of Our Colleagues on Alice

Earlier this month, attorneys and patent practitioners from all over the nation, and far corners of the globe, descended upon Bethesda, Maryland for the 31st Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference of the American Bar Association (ABA). A panel of three distinguished practitioners, Tim Bedard of Visa, Eric Sutton of Oracle, and Gene Quinn, debated The Post-Alice Landscape. The presentation included…

Defeating Alice with Data

Several questions every patent attorney should be asking before responding to an Alice rejection are: (1) How many Alice rejections has the examiner issued? (2) What does he or she consider to be the sticking points of the decision? (3) How many applications that received an Alice rejection were eventually allowed? Once an attorney has the answers to these questions in hand, the path to success in responding to an Alice rejection is considerably clearer.

The USPTO harms the economy with over-aggressive, haphazard Alice-based 101 rejections

It is poor patent policy to have broad areas of technology deemed patent-ineligible entirely, or ineligible without the high cost of attorney time to argue, and likely appeal, amorphous Alice-type rejections. This is particularly so as to technology that is central to the United States economy. Invention is central to U.S. economic might, and as our economy moves away from the “old line” manufacturing strength of the past, the U.S. has become especially strong in fields dependent on software technology and business methods. Strengths of the current U.S. economy include social media, the Internet, and the service economy, especially financial services. We are also strong in biotech. Yet those are precisely the fields most heavily damaged by Section 101 Alice-type rejections.

Surviving Alice: Signs that the patent market has weathered the Alice storm, at least for now

Alice certainly has dealt a huge blow to patent market, reversing the growth momentum of most market players, big or small. However, the decline in patent sales revenue has significantly decelerated to 5% in 2015, based on the estimated data. Not all segments of IP industry have weathered the Alice storm equally well. Most NPEs have seen their share prices plunging half to nearly 100%. There will be more restructuring and further consolidation in NPE business in 2016.

Amici Ask Federal Circuit to Curb Misapplication of Alice to Specific, Novel, and Concrete Inventions

On December 18, 2015, several amici filed a brief in support of appellants in Netflix, Inc. v. Rovi Corp. et al., No. 15-1917 at the Federal Circuit. The amici Broadband iTV, Inc., Double Rock Corporation, Island Intellectual Property, LLC, Access Control Advantage, Inc., and Fairway Financial U.S., Inc. are all former practicing entities and patent holders that built, developed, and commercialized computer-implemented technology and maintain an interest in the patented results of their research and development that solved real world problems faced by their respective businesses. The district court found the five patents-at-issue in this case, generally relating to video-on-demand technology, patent-ineligible as allegedly directed to the abstract ideas.

A Strategy for Protecting Software Claims from Invalidation Under the Algorithm Requirement

In general, the courts distinguish between functions and algorithms, and they require patent applicants to disclose algorithms to cure perceived deficiencies in functions. The problem with this line of reasoning is that both algorithms and functions under 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) are composed of the same things: steps. So the result of the algorithm requirement is to simply make patent applicants “fix” one step by specifying more steps. Accordingly, if the algorithm requirement is taken to its logical conclusion, then each step would be fixed with more steps, and each of those steps would be fixed with even more steps, like Russian dolls. Instead, the courts do not take the algorithm to its logical conclusion and, instead, only require a single layer: the original step and the further steps (i.e., algorithm) for it. This is arbitrary, confusing for patent applicants and examiners, and a poorly calibrated solution to concerns about software patents.

Is there a future for software patents in an age of software innovation?

Normally when there is a rejection the innovation itself has not been rejected, but rather the particular way in which it has been claimed is found to be unacceptable for one reason or another. The insidious nature of patent eligibility rejections, however, is that that innovation itself is rejected without regard to whether the innovation is useful, new, non-obvious and described well enough. A finality in the decision making process is reached even before any substantive inquiry is made about the nature and quality of the innovation. Such cursory decisions at the front end, without any factual inquiry into the merits of the invention, can render an entire category of innovation dead on conception, which is why patent eligibility has always been historically viewed as a low threshold inquiry, not the insurmountable mountain that it has become.

These Are the 20 Hardest and Easiest Art Units

Art Unit 3689 has the lowest allowance rate at 7.7%. Art Unit 3659 has the highest at 98.3%. Oddly enough, these two art units are from the same technology center. It’s worth noting, however, that the 3600s deal with a variety of inventions, including transportation, e-commerce, and national security. Of the 20 art units with the lowest allowance rates, eight are in the 3600’s. This is not surprising. After all, the 3600’s host many business-method art units.

A Post-Alice Playbook: Practical Strategies for Responding to Alice-Based Rejections

Although the Supreme Court in Alice declined to provide an express definition of “abstract idea,” the opinion is packed with evidence that the Court intended for the term “abstract idea” to apply not to any “abstract idea” in the colloquial sense, but only more specifically to abstract ideas that are fundamental practices long prevalent in their fields… [A]lthough the Court did not provide a definition of “abstract idea,” its reasoning implies that it intended to limit the concept of “abstract ideas” to those concepts which are fundamental and long prevalent, possibly to concepts which have been well-known and extensively used for hundreds of years. An even more narrow, but very reasonable, interpretation of Alice, given the opinion’s strong emphasis on the risk hedging claims in Bilski, the “intermediated settlement” concept allegedly embodied in the claims at issue in Alice, and the repeated references to “economic practices,” “finance class,” “commerce,” and “the modern economy,” is that the Court intended for “abstract ideas” to be limited primarily or entirely to financial methods.