IPWatchdog.com is in the process of transitioning to a newer version of our website. Please be patient with us while we work out all the kinks.

Posts Tagged: "justice stevens"

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.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Rader Rules in Utramercial that Breadth and Lack Specificity Does Not Make Claimed Method Impermissibly Abstract*

Some will undoubtedly view the Chief Judge’s basis in Ultramercial for distinguishing the ruling in CyberSource as being “slight of hand” and using “mirrors,” but it certainly illustrates the wide gulf of views between the various members on the Federal Circuit on the patent-eligibility question. I wouldn’t be surprised (and frankly it needs to happen) if both Ultramercial and CyberSource ended up before the en banc Federal Circuit. As I’ve noted previously, we’ve currently got what appear to be irreconcilable decisions in the Classen, Prometheus, and AMP cases in determining the patent-eligibility of certain medical (e.g., diagnostic) methods. With what appears to be similarly conflicting decisions in Ultramercial and CyberSource, the gauntlet has truly been thrown down. An en banc Federal Circuit needs to step in soon, or the conflagration that currently exists in the patent-eligibility “war” might soon consume us all.

CAFC on Patent-Eligibility: A Firestorm of Opinions in Classen*

That there was a majority (and a dissenting) opinion in the remand of Classen wasn’t surprising. But that there was yet a third “additional views” opinion would likely not have been predicted by anyone. And it is that “additional views” opinion, along with the majority and dissenting opinions, that will certainly generate a “firestorm” through the Federal Circuit, and which may eventually reach the Supreme Court. The judicial donnybrook on the question of what the standard is (or should be) for patent-eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101 is about to begin in earnest.

5th Anniversary: Supreme Lab Corp. Non-Decision Revisited

In truth, the dissent of Justice Breyer is extraordinarily short-sighted. As is the case with many inventions that are foundationally important, many judges seem extremely willing to find such pioneering inventions invalid for one reason or another. Indeed, Justice Breyer even glowingly referred to the Supreme Court’s decision in Gottschalk v. Benson, the Supreme Court case that originally prevented the patenting of software. Today, the ruling in Gottschalk universally believed to be wrong, yet to some it still seems to remain the seminal case showing that pioneering inventions should not be patented.

NFL Players vs. Owners: A Hail Mary of a Lawsuit

About 10 years ago, the NFLP decided that they wanted Reebok (and only Reebok) to make hats with the teams’ logos on them. American Needle, Inc., a competitor of Reebok, had been making these types of hats for the NFL for a really long time, and as a result of the NFLP’s deal with Reebok, it lost its contract with NFLP to make said hats. American Needle, Inc. did not have much of a sense of humor about this and sued the NFL under Antitrust principles. Enter American Needle v. National Football League et al. Needle is a big case because if the NFL had gotten what it asked for, the player’s union wouldn’t have been able to decertify and the players wouldn’t have been able to bring an antitrust suit.

Why Bilski Re-Affirms the Patent-Eligibility of Software

Even a very conservative reading of the opinions indicates that the Justices intended to leave the status of software as patent-eligible subject matter unchanged, and for further refinements to be worked out by the lower courts and USPTO. A more liberal reading indicates an intent to enable the scope of patent-eligible subject matter to expand in light of technological developments. In either case, the decision in Bilski fails to provide patent examiners and defendants in patent cases with any substantial new ammunition for rendering software patent claims unpatentable or invalid for lack of patentable subject matter, and weakens the ammunition previously in their arsenals. Therefore, despite any ambiguities which may exist in the language of the decision, the practical effect of Bilski will almost certainly be to bolster the patent-eligibility of software both in patent prosecution and in litigation in the U.S.

Jumping Down the Rabbit Hole: Federal Circuit Ducks the Patent-Eligibility Issue in King Pharmaceuticals

With an opportunity to render some order out of the Bilski chaos, the Federal Circuit instead completely ducked the patent-eligibility issue clearly presented in King Pharmaceuticals. The Federal Circuit then created (and I do mean “created”) the new “an anticipated method claim doesn’t become patentable if it simply includes an informing step about an inherent property of that method” doctrine. With this new “doctrine,” we have now “jumped down the rabbit hole” into a surreal “Bilski in Patentland” world.

Through the Fuzzy Bilski Looking Glass: The Meaning of Patent-Eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101

So now what does SCOTUS’ ruling in Bilski “really” mean to us “mere mortals”? First, we’ve got two “wild cards” to deal with as noted above: (1) Stevens has retired; and (2) what does Scalia’s refusal to join Parts II B-2 and C-2 of Kennedy’s opinion for the Court signify. Some aspects of “wild card” #2 are dealt with above, but as also noted, there are still some aspects which are unclear or at least ambiguous as to how this refusal by Scalia should be viewed. This lack of clarity/ambiguity will require some sorting out by the Federal Circuit, which may come as early as the reconsideration by the Federal Circuit of Prometheus, Classen, or even the appeal in AMP v. USPTO involving the gene patenting controversy. In AMP, District Court Judge Sweet’s invalidity ruling regarding the method claims for determining a pre-disposition to breast/ovarian cancer using the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes relies at least in part upon the “M or T” test which, as noted above, SCOTUS unanimously relegated to “second class” status in Bilski as not the only test for patent-eligibility.

Foaming at the Mouth III: And Then Came Bilski

One reason I was quite interested in Bilski was because the Supreme Court (not surprisingly) ruled that the Federal Circuit’s “machine or transformation” test was too inflexible, much like the “teaching, suggestion and motivation” (TSM) test in KSR International v. Teleflex. So why my intense interest in the Supreme Court (aka the Judicial Mount Olympus) relegating the “machine or transformation” (aka MoT) test to “second class status” in Bilski? Besides the inanity of MoT as the sole test for patent-eligibility, I am interested because of Judge Sweet’s ill-advised reliance on MoT (now smitten by the thunderbolts from our Judicial Mount Olympus in Bilski) for invalidating Myriad’s method claims using its BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene sequence technology.

Diagnostic Testing in the Wake of Bilski v. Kappos

Now that the Supreme Court has vacated and remanded both the Classen and Prometheus decisions, the Federal Circuit must revisit these issues. For Prometheus, the decision may be simpler, because the claims were already held to meet the machine-or-transformation test. Although the Supreme Court’s Bilski decision held that the M-or-T test was not the only test by which patent-eligibility can be determined, the Supreme Court seemed to have agreement from all nine Justices that the machine-or-transformation test was still a useful tool and valid option. See, e.g., Bilski, slip. op. at 2 of J. Breyer’s concurrence. Although a claim that does not meet the M-or-T test may still be patent-eligible under other theories, one can presume that the M-or-T test is still a “safe harbor” for claims that meet its provisions. The Federal Circuit’s re-visitation of Prometheus will be the first opportunity for this presumption to be tested.

Section 273 is NOT a Red Herring: Stevens’ Disingenuous Concurrence in Bilski

Where this decision takes on a surreal quality is how the various Justices viewed the impact of 35 U.S.C. § 273 in determining whether “business methods” are patent-eligible. Justice Stevens and 3 other Justices (Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotamayor) are completely WRONG in treating 35 U.S.C. § 273 as if this statute doesn’t exist. Even Scalia, who obviously doesn’t like patents on “business methods” (by his refusal to join Part II B-2 of Kennedy’s opinion) couldn’t stomach rendering the language of 35 U.S.C. § 273 a nullity.

Dissecting Bilski: The Meaning of the Supreme Patent Decision

Who knows what goes through the minds of anyone, let alone a cloistered Justice of the United States Supreme Court. What we do know, however, is that 5 Justices, namely Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Scalia all agreed that business methods are patentable subject matter. All 9 Justices agreed that the Federal Circuit misread previous Supreme Court decisions when they mandated that the machine or transformation test be the only test for determining whether a process is patentable subject matter. All 9 Justices agreed that the Bilski application was properly rejected, with the majority agreeing that it was properly rejected because it was an abstract idea, and the concurring minority simply wanting to say that business methods are not patent eligible unless tied to an otherwise patentable invention (see Stevens footnote 40).

Monday June 21, Another No Bilski Day for the Supremes

What makes this “no Bilski day” at the Supreme Court particularly interesting and noteworthy is the fact that the Supreme Court did issue a terrorism and First Amendment decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project today, a decision that many if not most would have thought to be harder and more important than the Bilski case. Given that the Supreme Court has issued a decision in what society as a whole will undoubtedly view as a far more important decision than Bilski, and since Bilski has been on the Supreme Court docket since oral arguments back on November 9, 2009, it seems virtually assured that the decision will slip to the final day of the Court’s 2009 term, or it will be held over.

Bilski Tea Leaves: Remembering the Lab Corp. Non-decision

It has been just over two months since the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Bilski v. Kappos, and we likely have at least several more months to wait for a ruling. Notwithstanding, pundits and commentators are certainly trying to figure out what the Supreme Court will do, engaging in thought exercises and gazing into crystal balls. The crystal ball…

Exploring Justice Steven’s Patent Past for Clues

Normally trying to figure out what a court will do is a waste of time, particularly so when that court is the Supreme Court, which is not bound by precedent of any kind given that they are the court of last resort. Having said that, the Bilski Federal Circuit decision is of such importance and inventors and clients cannot simply stand still waiting for a decision, holding themselves up until things become clear. In trying to piece together what might happen I think we should dissect some of the patent writings of the Justices, so without further ado lets begin with Justice John Paul Stevens.