Posts Tagged: "patent eligibility"

In First Half of 2021, 63% of U.S. Patents, 48.9% at EPO and 40.1% in China Were Software-Related

As an update to my posts from 2017, 2019, 2020, and March 2021, it has now been 86 months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision. Yet the debate still rages over when a software (or computer-implemented) claim is patentable versus being simply an abstract idea “free to all men and reserved exclusively to none” (as eloquently phrased over 73 years ago by then-Supreme Court Justice Douglas in Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co.). Further, it has been 10 years since famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote the influential and often-quoted op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Software Is Eating the World.” Today, the digital transformation where software is “eating the world” is undeniable. Let’s look at some facts and figures from the USA, Europe and China.

Drafting AI Patents: Challenges and Solutions

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest buzzword across all sectors. Every tech and non-tech company is vigorously filing, strategizing or planning to enter the AI patent domain. However, the journey is not as easy as it may seem. While drafting AI-based patent applications, drafters often face challenges in formulating the right strategy for writing claims and identifying the correct scope of the application. Thus, it’s important to know the challenges in detail and to develop practical solutions for drafting a patent-worthy application.

Federal Circuit Kills PersonalWeb’s ‘Content-Based Identifier’ Patent Claims Under 101

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granting judgment on the pleadings to Google, Facebook, EMC Corporation and VMware, Inc. that PersonalWeb Technologies’  patent claims were ineligible under Section 101. The decision was precedential and written by Judge Prost. The case has a long history and the CAFC has dealt with the patented technology before. The specific patents at issue here are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,802,310 (“the ’310 patent”), 6,415,280 (“the ’280 patent”), and 7,949,662 (“the ’662 patent”). The patents generally cover “data-processing systems that assign each data item a substantially unique name that depends on the item’s content—a content-based identifier.”

Thoughts on Tiffany Cunningham’s Confirmation to the CAFC

Tiffany Cunningham was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit earlier this week, making her—incredibly—the intellectual property court’s first Black judge. Cunningham has been a patent litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago, Illinois since 2014, and prior to that worked in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She will replace Judge Evan J. Wallach, who announced in March that he would retire from active service and assume senior status as of May 31, 2021, after 10 years of service with the court. Below are some thoughts from members of the IP community, and senators who voted for her, on what Cunningham’s appointment might mean for the CAFC long term.

In Partial Reversal of Decision for Sony, CAFC Reiterates Patentees Need Not Prove Their Case at the Pleading Stage

On July 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s decision that Sony Corporation of America, et al (Sony) did not infringe Bot M8 LLC’s (Bot M8) patents, again clarifying the pleading standard for patent infringement. Bot M8 filed suit against Sony in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging infringement of six of their patents, five of which remain relevant on appeal: U.S. Patent Nos. 8,078,540 (the ‘540 patent); 8,095,990 (the ‘990 patent); 7,664,988 (the ‘988 patent); 8,112,670 (“the ‘670 patent”); and 7,338,363 (the ‘363 patent). Bot M8 accused Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) gaming consoles and aspects of Sony’s PlayStation network of infringing their ‘540, ‘990, ‘988, and ‘670 patents. Additionally, Bot M8 accused certain PS4 video games of infringing their ‘363 patent.

USPTO Delivers on Senators’ Request for Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence Study

In March of this year, a bipartisan group of senators asked Drew Hirshfeld, who is Performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to “publish a request for information on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence in the United States, evaluate the responses,” and provide the senators with a detailed summary of the findings in order to assist them as they consider appropriate legislative action. The letter gave a deadline of March 5, 2022 to submit a report on the topic. Now, a Federal Register Notice (FRN) scheduled to be published July 9 is requesting answers and input from stakeholders to 13 questions/topics to assist in that effort, according to a publicly posted draft of the FRN.

District Court Thwarts $100 Million Damages Award, Finding Litigation Conduct Exceptional

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California recently ended a long, drawn-out patent infringement battle dealing with menu patents, which saw action in front of a jury, at the district court, at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), at the Federal Circuit, and even an unsuccessful petition to the Supreme Court. The resolution: The district court awarded Domino’s $2.7 million in attorneys’ fees and costs after finding the case exceptional within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 285.

La Cour d’Appel de l’Absurde (The Court of Appeals of the Absurd)

Reading the recent opinion of Judges Prost and Taranto in Yu and Zhang v. Apple and Samsung, Appeal Nos. 2020-1760, 1803 (Fed.Cir. June 11, 2021), I’m reminded of something Mark Twain never said: “There’s a lie, there’s a damned lie, and then there’s an Alice-Mayo decision.” Granted, it is hard to tell one Alice-Mayo decision from another. At face value, the Yu decision appears to be merely the latest absurdist fiction in a collection of short stories based on the abandonment of conventional law. Yet, the Yu decision is more than the typical Alice-Mayo scenario where logical construction and argument give way to irrationality in a senseless judiciary.

iLife Ties Its Patent Eligibility Fate to American Axle at Supreme Court

iLife Technologies last week petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a January 2021 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision upholding a district court’s finding of patent ineligibility for claim 1 of iLife’s U.S. Patent No. 6,864,796. Claim 1 of the ‘796 patent “is directed to a motion detection system that evaluates relative movement of a body based on both dynamic acceleration (e.g., vibration, body movement) and static acceleration (i.e., the position of a body relative to earth).” iLife had accused Nintendoof infringing the patent through sales of products such as Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Club Sports and Mario Kart 8.

Yu v. Apple Settles It: The CAFC is Suffering from a Prolonged Version of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a medical condition for which there is no known treatment. It causes a disturbance of perception and has a serious impact on the life of those afflicted, and I suspect on those who surround those afflicted. Of course, those in the patent community who work on software implemented innovations know all of this too well. Think this is a joke? Sadly, no. Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a real thing.

CAFC Affirms District Court Section 101 Dismissal in Patent Infringement Suit Brought Against Samsung/Apple; Newman Dissents

On June 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s grant of a motion to dismiss for Apple and Samsung in a patent infringement action brought by Yanbin Yu and Zhongxuan Zhang (collectively, “Yu”). Yu alleged infringement of Claims 1, 2, and 4 of U.S. Patent No. 6,611,289 (the ‘289 patent), titled “Digital Cameras Using Multiple Sensors with Multiple Lenses,” and the court dismissed due to ineligibility under Section 101. Judge Pauline Newman dissented.

Biden is Missing an Opportunity at the USPTO

Intellectual property (IP) made modern vaccines possible. It took billions of dollars in private and public investments in research and development to be able to create, in record time, multiple viable vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire world should be celebrating the innovators that continue to push forward with new solutions to problems we will face in the future. This pandemic will end, but there will be another. We should be eternally grateful to have companies like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson that have the capability to create and manufacture vaccines at large scale…. It has been over four months since President Biden’s inauguration. As of yet there has not been a nomination for the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In addition to running the USPTO, the Director is responsible for advising the President on intellectual property issues. I believe that President Biden would have benefitted from an experienced voice knowledgeable about the dangers of supporting the erosion of property rights during the discussions on whether to support India and South Africa’s proposal to the World Trade Organization to waive IP protections under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Fit to Drive: Three Inspiring Office Action Responses from the USPTO’s Art Unit 3668

Every patent practitioner has faced the same obstacle — a client’s application is assigned to an unfamiliar art unit. This presents two challenges: unfamiliarity with the examiners and unfamiliarity with the application of the law. Here are three proven arguments that overcame Section 101 rejections in AU 3668 from which to draw inspiration.

Substitute/Cultivated Meat Technology: A Deep-Dive Patent Landscape Analysis

Meat substitute technologies and the growing industry based on those technologies have seen significant growth in recent years, from the number of startup companies to the amount of investment money to the industry. This article analyzes the patent protection being sought and obtained by the various companies active in this young industry, taking a “deep dive” into the company patent portfolios with a detailed look into the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) files of the identified patent applications to understand some of the patent prosecution strategies, successes and problems encountered as the companies seek to protect their technology and investments.

High Court is Poised to Un-Muddy the Section 101 Waters Nearly Seven Years After Alice

Could the United States Supreme Court once again weigh in on Section 101 subject-matter eligibility? With the Court having asked for the views of the Solicitor General yesterday, it seems increasingly likely. Late in 2020, patentee American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. (American Axle) petitioned the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari, arguing that the Federal Circuit is “at a loss as to how to uniformly apply § 101.” Pet. for Writ of Certiorari at 3 (Dec. 28, 2020). Organizations such as the New York Intellectual Property Law Association, the New York City Bar Association, and the Chicago Patent Attorneys organization have all submitted amicus briefs supporting American Axle’s ask. On March 1, former USPTO Director David Kappos, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel, and Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina also jointly filed an amicus brief, arguing that the “disparate and inconsistent application” of the current Section 101 jurisprudence has led to “an unpredictable and unstable” patent system. Br. in Support of Am. Axle’s Pet. for Writ of Certiorari at 5 (Mar. 12, 2021).