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Posts Tagged: "American Axle and Manufacturing Inc. v. Neapco Drivelines LLC"

iLife Ties Its Patent Eligibility Fate to American Axle at Supreme Court

iLife Technologies last week petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a January 2021 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision upholding a district court’s finding of patent ineligibility for claim 1 of iLife’s U.S. Patent No. 6,864,796. Claim 1 of the ‘796 patent “is directed to a motion detection system that evaluates relative movement of a body based on both dynamic acceleration (e.g., vibration, body movement) and static acceleration (i.e., the position of a body relative to earth).” iLife had accused Nintendoof infringing the patent through sales of products such as Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Club Sports and Mario Kart 8.

High Court is Poised to Un-Muddy the Section 101 Waters Nearly Seven Years After Alice

Could the United States Supreme Court once again weigh in on Section 101 subject-matter eligibility? With the Court having asked for the views of the Solicitor General yesterday, it seems increasingly likely. Late in 2020, patentee American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. (American Axle) petitioned the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari, arguing that the Federal Circuit is “at a loss as to how to uniformly apply § 101.” Pet. for Writ of Certiorari at 3 (Dec. 28, 2020). Organizations such as the New York Intellectual Property Law Association, the New York City Bar Association, and the Chicago Patent Attorneys organization have all submitted amicus briefs supporting American Axle’s ask. On March 1, former USPTO Director David Kappos, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel, and Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina also jointly filed an amicus brief, arguing that the “disparate and inconsistent application” of the current Section 101 jurisprudence has led to “an unpredictable and unstable” patent system. Br. in Support of Am. Axle’s Pet. for Writ of Certiorari at 5 (Mar. 12, 2021).

USIJ to Supremes: Set Boundaries on 101 Jurisprudence to Save U.S. Innovation

The Alliance of U.S. Startups & Inventors for Jobs has filed an amicus brief supporting American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc.’s petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that many feel that “the U.S. patent system appears to be on life support”. The brief generally argues: The panel majority decision fails to comply with eligibility precedents established by the Court and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 56 (Rule 56); and Investments in technology startups in American has been declining for more than a decade.

AAM v. Neapco Comes Full Circle: The Foundation of Invention Becomes its Trap (Part II)

In Part I of this article, we briefly summarized how O’Reilly v. Morse was relied upon in the denial for rehearing in the recent case of AAM v. Neapco to assert that a patent claim to a method of making a motor vehicle axle failed to qualify as patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The concurring opinions concluded that claim 22 of the patent at issue, U.S. 7,774,911, “merely invoked” natural law, and did not describe what had been obtained in the patent. Consequently, as in O’Reilly v. Morse, the claim was “too broad, and not warranted by law.”  We also noted an apparent paradox in that, while claims cannot preempt natural law and must be supported by an enabling specification, they necessarily must be able to read on embodiments that incorporate later-developed technology. The key to resolving this dilemma is the notion of invention, which was the basis for the holding by the Court of the King’s Bench in Hornblower v. Boulton.

Morse Code: Is There a Message Behind the Federal Circuit Split in American Axle v. Neapco? (Part I of II)

It may seem surprising that the patent eligibility of making an axle for a motor vehicle could be so divisive among judges of a court tasked by design with the most difficult questions of patent law. And this internal division might appear particularly surprising given that the roots of the views expressed among the judges in the split decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in American Axle & Mfg., Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC et al., Case No. 2018-1763, slip op. (Fed. Cir., July 31, 2020) pre-date a famous 170-year old Supreme Court decision involving Samuel F. B. Morse’s telegraphy method, which was featured by the concurring opinions in the denial of the petition to rehear the case en banc. When viewed in a larger context, however, the most significant realization might be a unifying and constructive underlying message from the Federal Circuit bench.

CAFC Evenly Splits on En Banc Rehearing of American Axle’s Driveshaft Patent Case

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued Orders granting a request for panel rehearing and denying a request for rehearing en banc in response to a joint petition filed by American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM). The CAFC also issued a precedential modified opinion of its October 3, 2019 opinion in American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings. In the Order Denying Rehearing En Banc, Judges Newman, Moore, O’Malley, Reyna, Lourie and Stoll dissented from the denial of rehearing en banc. Each of Dyk, Chen, Newman, Stoll and O’Malley wrote separately.

Assessing the Impact of American Axle Six Months Out

Since the Supreme Court’s Alice decision in 2014, many patent prosecutors in Industrial & Mechanical Technologies practice groups have been spared the headaches that the decision created for their colleagues in Electrical & Computer Technologies practice groups. So, it came as quite a surprise, perhaps unwelcome to some, when the Federal Circuit decided American Axle v. Neapco, invalidating claims for a method for manufacturing propshafts as being directed to ineligible subject matter under Section 101 of the U.S. Patent Act…. Almost six months later, it appears that Neapco was right, at least when it comes to patent prosecution in the mechanical arts. Indeed, both anecdotal evidence and prosecution data aggregated by Juristat demonstrate that the American Axle decision has not affected the prosecution of mechanical inventions before the USPTO in any significant way.

The Search for the ‘Inventive Concept’ and Other Snipe Hunts

Everybody in the patent world is talking about the latest atrocity from the Federal Circuit known as the American Axle decision, but few actually appreciate the true level of absurdity. Yes, 35 U.S.C. § 101 swallowed §§ 112(a), 112(f), 102, and 103 in a single decision (a new feat of judicial acrobatics), and Judges Taranto and Dyk displayed their technical ignorance. For example, in citing the Flook decision Judges Dyk and Taranto assert that Flook’s mathematical formula (known to a million-plus engineers as the steepest-descent algorithm) is a “natural law.” American Axle, slip op. at p. 19. Seriously? Are Federal Circuit judges so technically ignorant that the entirety of the country is doomed to believe such an idiotic fantasy that a particular adaptive mathematical algorithm associated with no natural law must be a natural law?