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Posts Tagged: "Bilski v. Kappos"

Bilski and Its Expansion of the Abstract Idea Exception: A Failure to Define

The Supreme Court’s Bilski v. Kappos decision—which celebrated its 10th birthday this past weekend—still matters, even in the age of Mayo-Alice. For one thing, the case marked the end of the patent-eligibility peace. For another, Bilski stands for the well-known principle that the “machine-or-transformation” test offers a “useful and important clue” as to whether the process claimed by a patent will qualify as patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. §101. And at the same time, it stands for the fact that the machine-or-transformation test has been far more trivia than principle, the case law not having applied or considered that Bilski “clue” much beyond the Bilski case itself.

Consider the Courage of Judge Newman at the Federal Circuit

With more dissents than any other Federal Circuit Judge in history,  Judge Pauline Newman is driven by a need to safeguard our national system of innovation. Judge Newman has argued throughout the years that the Federal Circuit was created to rebuild and renew the patent system to encourage and incentivize industry, which is precisely the purpose both the Carter and Reagan Administrations had in mind when advocating for the creation of the Federal Circuit, which ultimately took form in 1982. Judge Newman has no qualms about speaking out in dissents when the objective of the Federal Circuit to bring certainty to U.S. patent laws is being hindered, in her view, by the majority, regardless of the complexities or dollar-values at stake in the case. In fact, in one interview she declared, “I have not hesitated to comment when I think that a panel isn’t going in quite [the] appropriate direction. Others have felt that perhaps I haven’t gone in quite the appropriate direction . . . . [A]ll in all it seems to me that it’s quite healthy to present a certain amount of turmoil to practitioners in the short run. But in the long-run I think the law is better for it.” George C. Beighley, Jr., “The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit: Has It Fulfilled Congressional Expectations?,” 21 FORDHAM INTELL. PROP. MEDIA & ENT. L.J. 671, 675–76 (2011). Clearly, she is interested in getting the law right for the greater good as she sees it, regardless of the impact her dissent may have on relationships or status quo.

Invest Pic v. SAP America, Inc. Amicus Brief Takes on CAFC’s ‘Physical Realm’ Test

Among the seven amicus curiae briefs filed Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court in InvestPic, LLC, v. SAP America, Inc., Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund’s brief argues that the case demands a hearing because the Federal Circuit has added yet another extra-statutory test to the already distorted patentability jurisprudence. In a decision of May 15, 2018 authored by Judge Taranto, the Federal Circuit found the patent claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,349,291 invalid because they were directed to an abstract idea and lacked an inventive concept necessary to save the invention under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In the course of its opinion, the Federal Circuit created a “physical realm” test, which is nowhere to be found in 35 U.S. Code Section 101, having been wholly conjured by judges.

In CAFC Holding Finding Dice Games Abstract, Judge Mayer Delivers Concerning Concurrence

On December 28, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in In re Marco Guldenaar Holding B.V. (2017-2465) in which the claims of a patent application directed to a dice game were held to be patent-ineligible for being directed to an abstract idea, with “the only arguable inventive concept relat[ing] to dice markings, which constitute printed matter.” The holding in the case is unsurprising post-Alice, but Judge Mayer’s concurrence reveals some concerning views on patent eligibility. The concurrence concludes by alleging that “Alice, for all intents and purposes, articulated a ‘technological arts’ test for patent eligibility.” The statute certainly does not hint at the sort of “technological arts” test that Judge Mayer would prefer and that Alice itself never required, despite Judge Mayer purportedly being concerned with precedent.

An Abdication of Collective Responsibility by the Federal Circuit

The Federal Circuit has often demanded some technical advantage under § 101 when none is required by U.S. patent law. The Federal Circuit has also made § 101 more burdensome, unpredictable and subjective than an obviousness determination under § 103, and § 101 is supposed to be a threshold test that acts to weed out only the most egregious attempts to patent fundamental principles. § 101 was never meant to weed out whole new areas of technology, particularly not nascent technologies. But that is exactly what is happening and the Court that has been charged to make sense of it all, the Federal Circuit, seems to be abdicating its collective responsibility by refusing to settle on a repeatable test that results in predictable outcomes.

At Age 46, it’s Time to Retire Benson

contrary to popular notion, U.S. Patent No. 4,344,142 to James Diehr was not the first attempt to patent the idea of performing a real-time simulation of the Arrhenius equation using periodic temperature measurements of a rubber mold in order to cure rubber.  In fact, nearly two years prior to Diehr’s filing, Thomas Smith filed for a device that performed the very same algorithm using dedicated logic, which was granted as U.S. Patent No. 3,819,915. Smith was also granted U.S. Patent No. 4,022,555 for another rubber-curing device based on discrete logic. Similarly, William Claxton filed for patent protection in 1974 for an Arrhenius-based rubber-curing device using analog components, which issued as U.S. Patent No. 4,044,600.  

No Light at the End of the Tunnel, Not Even Close

It’s been over eight years since the Supreme Court issued its Bilski v Kappos decision, over six years since the Supreme Court issued its Mayo v. Prometheus decision and over four years since the Supreme Court issued its Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision.  In case anyone missed it, each of these three landmark cases was decided based on evidence on the record.  Thus, the Supreme Court not only contemplated the need for evidence when determining patent eligibility for abstract ideas of man-made origin, but wholly embraced the practice. Yet despite the Supreme Court’s trio of evidence-based holdings, it was February of this year before a single three-judge Federal Circuit panel definitively ruled on the evidence issue in Berkheimer v. HP, and it was the end of May before a majority of the Federal Circuit signed on to the idea that determining whether a man-made something is well-understood (or well-known), routine and conventional is an issue of fact that should be based on objective evidence. That’s the better part of a decade of the Federal Circuit wandering the desert.

Revising Section 101 of the Patent Act: What’s at Stake?

These revisions favor patent owners, according to Palmer, but not everyone is supportive. For instance, Bilski, Mayo, Myriad, and Alice have given several accused infringers an additional tool for fighting non-practicing entities. So. the level of support for these revisions will depend where you fall on this spectrum. That being said, Palmer does not think the Court will change its eligibility analysis in the foreseeable future, and Congress is not likely to take up these anytime soon.

The Supreme Court May Give Product Designers Little to Cheer in Star Athletica

The Supreme Court granted certiorari this term in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., which considers whether typical designs on cheerleading uniforms can be copyrightable subject matter. The appeals court believed that the designs were appropriate, but my guess is that several Supreme Court justices reacted with skepticism, which is why they decided to take the appeal. Those engaged with product development eagerly await the decision in this case because there is significant judicial uncertainty about the application of copyrights to useful products, and in particular, with how to draw the line between artistic craftsmanship and industrial design. Unfortunately, this case raises rather narrow issues, and the Court will be able to resolve them while skirting the most difficult debates. Thus, I believe that those looking for hard-and-fast rules will ultimately feel no more satisfied than observers did after the Court’s decisions with patentable subject matter, such as in Bilski v. Kappos.

What the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia means for SCOTUS patent jurisprudence

While Justice Scalia served on the Supreme Court for nearly three decades, his contributions to the area of intellectual property law were quite limited. Scalia did famously refer to patents as “gobbledegook” during the KSR v. Teleflex oral arguments. Scalia was the only Justice not to sign onto an opinion in Bilski v. Kappos that would have recognized that at least some software is patent eligible. But Justice Scalia did not author any of the major patent decisions considered by the Court during his tenure. The passing of Justice Scalia does not seem likely have much of an impact on intellectual property cases, particularly patent cases. Having said this, I could see legislative history becoming more relevant than anyone would have anticipated just a week ago when the Supreme Court considers Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee.

America Must be the Leader in Patenting Innovations, Including Software

I do feel that the whole notion of trying to find an “inventive concept” is really challenged. While the Supreme Court went out of its way to say we are really not putting Sections 102 or 103 in here, I think what’s happening is the Courts are basically trying to do that. And they’re looking deeply into prior art in some cases to knock out patents under Section 101 and whittle away the invention, and trying to find the abstract idea by doing a prior art analysis, and I think that’s troubling.

A Software Patent History: SCOTUS Decides Bilski

The Supreme Court held that the machine-or-transformation test is not the sole test for patent eligibility under §101, and that the Federal Circuit erred when it ruled that it was the singular test to determine whether an invention is patentable subject matter… As we leave Bilski we knew, or thought we knew, that 8 out of 9 Justices of the United States Supreme Court had agreed that at least some software is patentable.

SCOTUS: Public Enemy Number One for Patent Owners

The consequences of SCOTUS decisions are really severe. The U.S. is no longer a favorable jurisdiction for many biotech patents, medical devices and software. What that’s going to mean is companies are going to move. We’ve known this throughout history. Companies locate where the laws are the best for them. If you’re an innovator you’re going to go where the patent laws are the strongest. And that’s why the U.S. has dominated in these industries. We’re number one in biotech is because of Chakrabarty, which has basically been overruled. Prior to Myriad you would have said the ruling of Chakrabarty was this: if there’s human intervention it’s patent eligible, but now you can’t say that because there was human intervention in Myriad, which they acknowledged, and still the claims were patent ineligible. We know companies will move to jurisdictions with more favorable laws…

Patent Eligibility in Unsettled Times

Today, after several years of substantial turmoil, patent eligibility in a variety of economically significant technologies is extremely uncertain, including software, natural products, medical diagnostics and personalized medicine. It is with great irony that one of the few things we know with any degree of certainty is that business methods are patent eligible… If you haven’t noticed, overwhelming portions of the U.S. economy are tied to the biotechnology and software sectors. Are we about to throw away our economic leadership? There are already some lawyers talking openly with clients about whether they may be able to in some cases actually get broader, more certain protection outside the United States.

Patent Turmoil: Navigating the Software Patent Quagmire

Despite the turmoil surround software patent eligibility I believe with great certainty that software will remain patent eligible in the United States. The extreme decisions of the PTAB and viewpoints of those on the Federal Circuit opposed to computer implemented methods will not prevail because they are inconsistent with the Patent Act and long-standing patent law jurisprudence. After all, the Supreme Court itself explicitly found software patent eligible in Diamond v. Diehr. In the meantime, while we wait for the dust to settle, we need to engage in a variety of claiming techniques (i.e., methods, computer readable medium, systems claims, means-plus-function claims and straight device claims). Thus, if you are interested in moving forward with a patent application it will be advisable to file the application with more claims than would have been suggested even a few months ago. Patent attorneys also must spend increased time describing the invention from various viewpoints, which means specifications should increase in size. This all means that there is no such thing as a quick, cheap and easy software patent application – at least if you want to have any hope of obtaining a patent in this climate.