Posts Tagged: "patent eligibility"

Ameranth Attempts to Bump Eligibility Issue Back to Top of SCOTUS’ Inbox

Earlier this month, Ameranth Inc. filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC’s) decision affirming a district court ruling that Ameranth’s patent was ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Ameranth claims that “federal courts have declared thousands of new and useful inventions abstract and patent ineligible” based on SCOTUS’s decision in Alice Corp Pty. v. CLS Bank Int’l (U.S. Supreme Court, 2014). The culmination of the post-Alice upheaval is the CAFC’s paralytic gridlock of denying rehearing en banc in American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holding LLC (CAFC, 2020) according to the petition. Ameranth pled that the court should provide guidance on the standard for patent eligibility, as federal circuits continue to apply the law in a non-uniform and unarticulated manner.

Judge Michel Asks Supreme Court to Grant Petition in USR v. Apple to Save U.S. Innovation

On March 2, amicus briefs were presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of petitioner Universal Secure Registry’s (USR’s) appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which challenges that court’s application of the Alice/Mayo framework on Section 101 subject matter patent eligibility in invalidating patent claims owned by USR. Both amicus filings urge the Supreme Court to rein in the Federal Circuit’s expansive application of Alice/Mayo, which has gone far beyond the original bounds intended by the Court. One of those briefs is made even more persuasive by the fact that it was authored by Judge Paul R. Michel, the former Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit.

As Judge Stark Ascends to the Federal Circuit, a Look Back at His 2018 Ruling in American Axle

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate officially confirmed Judge Leonard P. Stark to serve as a Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit bench has great importance to the world of patent law as this is the U.S. federal court of appeal with specialized subject matter jurisdiction over all patent cases arising in U.S. district court and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Judge Stark was confirmed in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 61-35 vote, reported to be one of the most bipartisan confirmation votes thus far into the Biden Administration. Perhaps chief among Judge Stark’s qualifications that inspired such confidence in his nomination at the Senate was his previous position as U.S. District Judge for the District of Delaware. Serving as the Chief Judge of that district court since 2014, Judge Stark’s docket has seen more than 2,400 patent cases filed since he joined the District of Delaware back in 2010.

Biden Administration Should Recommend Clarifying Patent Eligibility Law in American Axle

Nine months in, and we are still awaiting the Biden administration’s decision as to whether the law of patent eligibility should be clarified. This area of patent law has in recent years become increasingly unpredictable, and the consequences of that unpredictability have largely fallen on startups, whose primary assets are often inventions. On May 3, 2021, the Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to recommend whether certiorari should be granted in American Axle v. Neapco Holdings, LLC—a case in which a method for manufacturing vehicle driveshafts was deemed ineligible under 35 USC § 101 as being directed to a law of nature.

CAFC Affirms District Court Finding that Dual-Access Lock Patents are Invalid Under 101

On February 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the Eastern District of New York’s grant of summary judgment that inventor David Tropp’s patents were invalid because they claim ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The appeal was brought by Tropp against Travel Sentry, Inc. and other lock and luggage makers. The asserted claims relate to U.S. Patent Nos. 7,021,537 (the ’537 patent) and 7,036,728 (‘728 patent). Representative claim 1 of the ’537 patent relates to a method of making available a dual-access lock having a combination-lock portion and a master-key-lock portion. The dual-access lock allegedly enables travelers to lock their bags while still allowing luggage screeners to access luggage (with a marked lock) with a master key.

CAFC Orders New Trial on Damages, Clarifies IPR Estoppel Rule in Appeal of Caltech’s $1.1 Billion Win Against Apple and Broadcom

On February 4, in a mixed precedential decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed, vacated, and remanded in part a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in a patent infringement suit filed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) against Broadcom Limited, Broadcom Corporation, and Avago Technologies (collectively “Broadcom) and Apple Inc. The suit was related to Caltech’s U.S. Patent 7,116,710 (‘710 patent), U.S. Patent 7,421,032 (‘032 patent), and U.S. Patent 7,916,781 (‘781 patent). The CAFC affirmed the district court’s denial of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on infringement because the jury’s verdict of infringement of the declared claims of the ‘710 and ‘032 patents was supported by substantial evidence and the district court’s construction of the claim limitation “repeat” was not erroneous.

Albright Calls SCOTUS Test ‘Confusing Abyss of Patent Eligibility Law’, Denies Motion to Dismiss

Just over one week ago, U.S. District Judge Alan D. Albright of the Western District of Texas entered a ruling denying PNC Bank’s motion to dismiss patent infringement claims asserted by financial record retrieval tech developer Mirror Imaging. In affirming the validity of Mirror Imaging’s patents under Section 101 at the motion to dismiss stage, Judge Albright acknowledged that tests handed down by the Supreme Court for subject matter eligibility have created a “confusing abyss of patent eligibility law” before affirming the validity of Mirror Imaging’s patents on both steps of the Alice test.

Section 101 on Trial: Understanding How Eligibility Issues Have Fared Before Juries

Few lawyers have tried patent eligibility, 35 U.S.C. Section 101, to a jury. Our research found just four such cases since the Supreme Court created its muddled two-step test in Alice v. CLS Bank. In every one of those, the jury issued a pro-ineligibility verdict, while none resulted in a final Section 101 determination either way. Understanding how that issue has been handled at and after trial is important for practitioners with cases where Section 101 is at issue, which has become increasingly common.

On Final Day of PTAB Masters™ 2022, Iancu/Panelists Ponder the Road Ahead for USPTO and PTAB

The last day of PTAB Masters™ 2022 featured sessions on dealing with parallel litigation at the International Trade Commission (ITC) and district courts in Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings; life sciences and inter partes review (IPR); and the future of the PTAB. On the latter topic, speakers contemplated what lies in wait for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director nominee, Kathi Vidal, who is likely to be confirmed, as well as how certain the Restoring America Invents Act is to be passed, and what changes it may include.

Top Issues for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2022

Incoming U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal’s answers to Senators’ written questions following her recent confirmation hearing provide reasons for hope to those concerned about the current state of the patent system. Vidal’s responses emphasize three priorities: strengthening patents and trademarks, ensuring that U.S. intellectual property is protected abroad, and expanding the reach of the patent system to underrepresented groups. This article focuses on five important issues that any new USPTO Director will need to address—and looks for clues as to how she may approach them.

SCOTUS, Vaccine Mandates and Patent Law: God Help Us

Is the Supreme Court competent to handle issues dealing with technology? The question is often discussed in private among patent attorneys who find themselves completely befuddled by the wanton disregard and open duplicitous handling of patent laws by the Nation’s High Court. In one decision, the Supreme Court will wax poetically about the need to adhere to precedent, and citing stare decisis, and then overrule well-established, 30-year-old Supreme Court precedent. The whim and fancy – and intellectual dishonesty – of the Supreme Court knows no bounds when it comes to patent law. But now, just how little at least some of the Justices know about basic science – and logic — has become glaringly and unmistakably obvious to everyone, thanks to the recent oral argument held regarding vaccine mandates.

In Written Responses to Senators’ Questions, Vidal Supports Iancu’s 101 Guidance ‘In Principle’

In written answers to Senators’ questions for the record submitted today by Kathi Vidal, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the next U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director, Vidal said that she “support[s] the principle of” former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu’s Patent Eligibility Guidance for examiners, but stopped short of wholly endorsing the present guidance or committing to keeping it in place. Instead, Vidal said she would review the guidance in light of intervening case law and comments on the USPTO’s study on the state of patent eligibility jurisprudence to determine if updates are needed.   

Alice-Insanity (Part Three): How the Star Chamber of Madison Place Violates Basic Principles of Collateral Estoppel

As stated in Part One of this series, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees, inter alia, that no person shall be deprived of property (including intellectual property), without due process of law. However, the Supreme Court has never held that a single appellate court must comply with Fifth Amendment due process of law. The closest the Supreme Court ever came to such a radical idea as requiring any appellate court in the nation to comply with due process of law was at a time when “Three’s Company” and “The Muppet Show” dominated the 7PM-9PM Nielsen’s ratings. See Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106 (1976) (warning the Eighth Circuit that “injustice was more likely to be caused than avoided by deciding the issue without petitioner’s having had an opportunity to be heard,” but not actually requiring the Eighth Circuit to comply with Fifth Amendment due process). In contrast, the Supreme Court has held that even a man classified as an “enemy combatant” by the U.S. government is entitled to at least some measure of due process. See Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004).

J.E.M.: The Supreme Court’s Last Expansion of Patent Protection, 20 Years Ago

In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the first time that plants could be protected with utility patents. J.E.M. Ag Supply, Inc., v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. 534 U.S. 124. This landmark decision, originating in the agricultural heartland of Iowa, was the last time the Supreme Court effectively increased patent protection for inventors and patent owners. Most, if not all, of the Supreme Court’s patent rulings in the past two decades have not been favorable to patent owners. Rather, these “recent” decisions have restricted patent rights and made it more difficult to enforce these rights against infringers.

Massie Introduces Bill to Repeal PTAB, Abrogate Alice

Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) on November 5 introduced a bill, titled the Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act of 2021 (RALIA), HR 5874, that would repeal the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), return the patent system to a “first-to-invent” model, rather than first-to-file, and would end automatic publication of patents. Inventor groups such as US Inventor and conservative groups are supporting the legislation.