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Posts Tagged: "BASCOM Global v. AT&T"

Supreme Court Denies Cert in Two-Way Media v. Comcast, Refuses Another 101 Case

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in Two-Way Media Ltd. v. Comcast Cable Communications, refusing to hear yet another appeal in a case involving a question of patent eligibility… Simply put, the answer to the first question asked by Two-Way Media in its Petition for Certiorari is absolutely not. There never has been a requirement that a patent claim must be — or even should be or can appropriately be — read in isolation. In fact, decisions that purport to ascertain the meaning of claim languagewithout the pomp and circumstance of Markman are openly violating the clear dictates of the Supreme Court. 

Rule 36 Affirmances at the Federal Circuit – Week of October 8, 2018

During the week of October 8, 2018,  there were five cases involving patents that were decided without an opinion as a result of Rule 36 affirmances at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Three of those cases were issued by panels including Chief Judge Sharon Prost. In two cases, the Federal Circuit upheld district court invalidations of asserted patents whereas another two affirmed rejections of applicants claims by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The last case was a summary affirmance of a victory by German drugmaker Erfindergemeinschaft UroPep over Eli Lilly in the Eastern District of Texas.

Blackbird Technologies to Appeal Ineligibility Ruling in Cloudflare Patent Infringement Litigation

“One thing that I find curious is that Cloudflare claims to have 150 patent assets on the same type of technology,” Verlander said. Such assets include U.S. Patent No. 9342620, titled Loading of Web Resources, and U.S. Patent No. 9369437, entitled Internet-Based Proxy Method to Modify Internet Responses. “It seems to me that Cloudflare should be quite concerned. If the technology covered by the ‘335 patent isn’t patent-eligible, all of Cloudflare’s patent assets may be worthless and I imagine that their investors must be worried about that. They may have won the battle but they could lose the war because if they’re correct, competitors could jump right into the market and copy Cloudflare’s technology.”

In precedential decision, Federal Circuit rules patent directed to encoding and decoding image data is not patent-eligible

The Federal Circuit held that the claim was directed to the abstract idea of encoding and decoding image data. According to the panel, the claim recited “a method whereby a user displays images on a first display, assigns image codes to the images through an interface using a mathematical formula, and then reproduces the image based on the codes… This method reflects standard encoding and decoding, an abstract concept long utilized to transmit information.” The Federal Circuit went on to note under step one that RecogniCorp’s Claim 1 differed from the invention in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016) because, unlike Enfish’s invention, Claim 1 did not recite a software method that improved the functioning of a computer but instead recited a process “for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.”

Examining USPTO Business Method Patent Eligibility Examples

On December 15, 2016, the USPTO published three subject matter eligibility examples focusing on business method claims. The purpose of these examples is to give guidance on how claims should be analyzed using the 2014 Interim Guidance on Subject Matter Eligibility, recent Supreme Court and Federal Circuit decisions, and recent Memorandums published by the USPTO. These examples seem to indicate that the power of §101 to restrict patentability has been whittled down since Alice and that the USPTO would like to reduce the number of §101 rejections for technological claims in light of court decisions post-Alice. Below, we describe each example provided by the USPTO, explain the USPTO guidance for each example, and provide practical practice tips that practitioners can use to help reduce or overcome §101 rejections.

Sections 101 and 112: Eligibility, Patentability, or Somewhere in Between?

Sections 101 and 112 provide their own separate limitations to the scope of patent protection in ways that are sometimes complimentary and sometimes contradictory… Inventors are motivated to maximize the breadth of their claims. But they may seek to do so by employing imprecise claim language. Both §§ 101 and 112 corral this behavior, although in slightly different ways. Section 101 safeguards against claims that are too abstract or overbroad to be patentable, being concerned with claims that would “wholly pre-empt” any other use of an inventive concept, thereby foreclosing independent innovations or application. Bilski, 561 U.S. at 610 (quotation omitted). Section 112 protects against claims that are not completely and functionally disclosed within the patent specification ensuring that patentees cannot claim more than what they have invented – and shared with the public.

A Guide to Software Patent Eligibility at the Federal Circuit

The Alice/Mayo framework is the decisional approach adopted by the United States Supreme Court for determining whether a patent claim exhibits, such as software patent claims, embody patent eligible subject matter… Over the last six months the Federal Circuit has provided a great deal of clarity, with 9 judges (Judges Moore, Taranto, Hughes, Chen, Newman, O’Malley, Reyna, Stoll, and Plager) signing on to decisions that found software patent claims to be patent eligible. What follows is a a summary of the significant developments over the last six months.

How to Patent Software in a Post Alice Era

In a nutshell, if you are going to write a patent application in such a way that at the end of the it the reader is left wondering what the innovation is, what the problem being solved is, or the technical particulars on how the innovation actually solves the problem, you should not expect a patent. In other words, if you write your patent applications without actually defining the technological solution and how it is implementing the desired functionality you describe, and how that is an improvement, you will not get a patent because the claims will be patent ineligible. On the other hand, if you write your patent applications to describe (and claim) an invention that is adequately described so that someone of skill in the art will understand what is innovative (i.e., how and why), thick with technical disclosure and explanation as to how computer functionality is being improved, or even generic components are working in unconventional ways, then you will get a patent because your claims will be patent eligible.

Federal Circuit: An unconventional solution to a technological problem is patent eligible

The ’510, ‘984, and ‘797 patents were each held eligible for similar reasons. Again, the court found that even if the claims were directed to an abstract idea, they would be eligible under step two of the Alice framework. The Court again relied on the unique and unconventional distributed architecture found in the specification and construed into the claim in the previous proceeding. This architecture allowed for load distribution – a technological and unconventional solution to a technological problem. While the ‘984 claims contained generic components and functions, the overall ordered combination of the limitations were unconventional and solved the technological problem.

USPTO issues new memorandum on software eligibility in light of McRo, BASCOM

Earlier today the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a new memorandum to patent examiners on recent software patent eligibility decisions from the Federal Circuit. The memo sent to the patent examining corps from Robert Bahr, who is Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, explains that this most recent memorandum provides examiners with discussion of McRo, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America and BASCOM Global Internet Services v. AT&T Mobility.

FREE WEBINAR: Drafting Patent Applications to Overcome Alice

Join us on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 2pm ET for a discussion on drafting patent applications to overcome Alice, with JiNan Glasgow of Neopatents and Gene Quinn of IPWatchdog. In addition to taking as many of your questions as possible we will address the following: (1) Brief overview of Alice, Enfish, TLI Communications, BASCOM, McRo and FairWarning IP. (2) What these most recent Federal Circuit cases teach about drafting software patents. (3) How to cope with being unexpectedly assigned to an Art Unit.

Federal Circuit Provides Additional Insight on §101 Protections for Software Patents

In a September 13, 2016 decision relating to subject matter eligibility of software patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s order granting Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), and held that McRO’s patents were eligible for protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The disputed patent claims recited a method for “automatically . . . producing accurate and realistic lip synchronization and facial expressions in animated characters.” The McRO patents identified that a problem in the prior art was that animators, even using the assistance of computers, had to manually manipulate the character model for lip movement. The McRO patents solved this problem by using rules to automatically depict more realistic synchronization of lip movements and speech.

Using a European technical effect approach to software patent-eligibility

Unlike Judge Chen’s breadth-based approach, Judge Hughes appears to adopt the proposal of using the European technical effect ( or “technological arts”) analysis to determine whether a U.S. claim is patent-eligible… The CAFC decides that the above claim indeed is related to an improvement to computer functionality itself, not on economic or other tasks for which a computer is used in its ordinary capacity. This once again approaches the “technical problem” analysis of European law, which at least has the advantage of possessing something of a legal principle about it, as opposed to being a tautology.

Using narrow claim breadth as a sign of software patent-eligibility

In two cases written by Judge Chen (DDR Holdings, LLC v. Hotels.com L.P., 2013-1505 (Chen, Wallach, Meyer (dissent) and Bascom Global Internet Services, Inc., v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 2015-1763 (Newman, O’Malley, Chen)) the patents were found to be patent-eligible principally because analysis typically regarded as being under Mayo step 2 demonstrated that the claims added “something more” to the abstract ideas than merely well-understood and conventional steps. In effect, Judge Chen’s opinions focus on whether the narrowness of the claim is adequate. If it is, the claim is not abstract. How narrow is “narrow enough” is, like “abstract”, not defined, but this approach bears a closer resemblance to the original limiting principle of the abstract idea doctrine – preemption – than many recent decisions.

In BASCOM v. AT&T the CAFC says software patent eligible again

This case arrived at the Federal Circuit on an appeal brought by BASCOM from the district court’s decision to grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In the majority opinion Chen made much of the civil procedure aspects of a 12(b)(6) motion, as well he should. Frankly, it is about time that the Federal Circuit notice that these patent eligibility cases are reaching them on motions to dismiss. This should be overwhelmingly significant in virtually all cases given that a motion to dismiss is an extraordinary remedy in practically every situation throughout the law. Simply put, judges are loath to dismiss cases on a motion to dismiss before there has been any discovery or any issues are considered on their merits. That is, of course, except when a patent owner sues an alleged infringer.