Has Cellspin Resurrected Electric Power Group?
I thought the Electric Power Group decision was effectively dead. It used an overbroad characterization of patent claims under Step 1 of Mayo/Alice. Following that decision, I encountered many Section 101 rejections that put forth an extremely broad characterization of claims, citing Electric Power Group as authority. I saw no rebuttal until the 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance, 84 Fed. Reg. 50, 52 (January 7, 2019). “Claims that do not recite matter that falls within these enumerated groupings of abstract ideas should not be treated as reciting abstract ideas.” See id. at 53. The Electric Power Group decision was nowhere cited, and “collecting information” was not listed as one of the abstract ideas. Indeed, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) art unit 3600 soon decided that “‘collecting usage information’ … is not an abstract idea.” See Final Decision in Ex parte Fanaru, Appeal 2017-2898 at page 5 (PTAB 2019). I was thus able to use the 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance and Ex parte Fanaru to counter an examiner’s broad characterization of claims. Now, however, Electric Power Group may make a comeback. The very recent Cellspin decision again cited to Electric Power Group to support a very broad Step 1 characterization of claims. The Federal Circuit panel (Lourie, O’Malley, and Taranto) found the claims were “drawn to the idea of capturing and transmitting data from one device to another.” See Cellspin Soft, Inc. v. Fitbit, Inc., et al., at page 16 slip opinion (CAFC, decided June 25, 2019).