Posts Tagged: "patent eligibility"

World IP Day 2021: Reflections During a Global Pandemic Year

Never more than in this past year has reflection and introspection been important to cope with the isolation and stress brought by a raging pandemic. As I look back at World IP Day last year, I immediately recognize how much we have learned and evolved since the beginning of this aggressive and deadly disease. In little more than a year, the outlook is significantly more positive: vaccines are being rolled out in vast quantities, their effect in curbing infections and deaths starts to be recognized, the economy is showing signs of recovery, schools are reopening and there is finally more optimism.

NetSoc Appeals to SCOTUS, Claiming Improper Analysis of Social Network Patent Nixed Under 101

On April 5, NetSoc LLC filed a petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) after losing its appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which found NetSoc’s patent was directed to patent-ineligible subject matter. NetSoc claims that U.S. Patent No. 9,978,107 (‘107 Patent), titled “Method and System for Establishing and Using a Social Network to Facilitate People in Life Issues,” was legally issued in 2003 contrary to the claim of respondents, Match Group LLC, Plenty of Fish Media and Humor Rainbow. NetSoc says that review is warranted to resolve four legal issues of importance,

Drafting Lessons from a 101 Loss in the Eastern District of Texas

On March 30, Judge Sean D. Jordan of the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, issued a rather atypical Order, at least for the Eastern District of Texas. A defendant prevailed on a motion to dismiss. See Repifi Vendor Logistics, Inc. v. IntelliCentrics, Inc., Civil No. 4:20-CV-448-SDJ. Those familiar with patent litigation know that, over many years, the Eastern District of Texas has been a notoriously favorable venue for patent owners to pursue patent infringement lawsuits against alleged infringers. One of the things that has made the Eastern District of Texas so compelling from the patent owner perspective is the extraordinary reluctance of judges to rely on procedural motions to dispose of lawsuits in favor of defendants. It is no exaggeration to say that virtually everything that is filed in the Eastern District of Texas will go to trial unless it settles, which can raise the pressure on defendants to settle, sometimes for nuisance value alone.

In re Stanford: Ruined by a Processor and a Memory

Computer boilerplate – such as including “a processor and a memory” in claims – is commonplace in patent applications. However, the recent case of In re Stanford shows that this can be a double-edged sword, having the potential to both undermine an application and to ruin an opinion that could otherwise have shed light on several of the thorniest open questions in patent eligibility jurisprudence. Skeptical that such a common practice could be so counterproductive? Read on.

Patents on Transactions Using Cryptocurrency: Square versus PayPal

Cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies based on blockchain technology that uses a network of computers to keep a public ledger of past transactions. The most popular cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which some believe could replace bonds and serve as a reserve currency in the future. The value of Bitcoin has skyrocketed over recent years, as major companies are buying into it. In February 2021, Tesla Inc. bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and announced plans to start accepting the currency as payment for its electric vehicles. Since Bitcoin has the potential to be used directly in commercial transactions, fintech companies are developing and patenting related technologies.

CAFC Again Affirms PTAB Rejection of Stanford Patent Application Claims Under Alice

Two weeks after affirming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) decision to reject Leland Stanford Junior University’s (Stanford) claims drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) last week also affirmed the PTAB’s decision to hold other Stanford patent application claims patent ineligible because they are drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling, and similar nonpatentable subject matter. The examiner rejected claims 1 and 22–43 of U.S. Application No. 13/486,982 (‘982 application), “computerized statistical methods for determining haplotype phase,” on grounds that the claims attempt to cover patent ineligible subject matter, abstract mathematical processes and mental processes. The CAFC applied the two-step framework under Alice v. CLS Bank to determine whether the claims were patent eligible.

International IP Index 2021: United States Remains Second in Patent Rankings, Global IP Framework Holds Strong Amid Pandemic

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) released its ninth annual International IP Index yesterday, finding that the United States, Japan and Europe remained at the top of the global intellectual property rankings, while emerging markets like the United Arab Emirates, China and Mexico continued to improve their scores. Despite the pandemic, the overall global IP environment improved, and the report underscored the critical role that strong IP economies played in combating COVID-19. The report, titled “Recovery Through Ingenuity,” covers the IP framework in 53 global economies across 50 unique indicators. 32 of these 53 economies had positive improvements in their scores over the 2020 report.

Tillis and Cotton Urge Hirshfeld to Adopt Pilot Program to Address ‘Inherently Vague and Subjective’ Eligibility Analyses

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter on Monday to the acting Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Drew Hirshfeld, asking him to “initiate a pilot program directing examiners to apply a sequenced approach to patent examination,” rather than the traditional “compact approach.” This proposed pilot program would require a select group of examiners and applicants who elected to participate in the program “to engage in a full examination of the grounds of patentability and then, once that process is complete, a full examination of the grounds of eligibility.”

How to Choose the Next Federal Circuit Judge: Stick with Experience

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the nation’s patent court, is at a crossroad. Today, unlike in earlier decades, nearly all its cases are patent-related, yet, to my eye, barely half its members can be considered lifetime patent lawyers. And although any diligent lawyer can learn “black letter” patent law on the job (as I myself did), that is no longer sufficient, because judges also need a deep understanding of how inventors and investors, including corporate CEOs, rely on patents in making difficult and fateful decisions about whether to fund new R&D and manufacture new products, or not. Such decision-makers crave predictability of outcome and stability of legal requirements. Because uncertainty generates excess risk, when in doubt, they usually opt against going forward…. To me, this all suggests that the nominee to fill the vacancy on the CAFC expected in May should be a seasoned patent litigator.

Good News for Patentees: Bipartisan NSCAI Invokes National Security in Calling for Legislation to Clarify Patent Eligibility

The judicial undermining of patent eligibility, in defiance of the clear language in Section 101 of the Patent Act, poses a clear and present danger to the pace of American innovation…. Fortunately, a recently released report by a bipartisan congressionally-established  commission lends powerful support to Section 101 reform initiatives. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 created a 15-member National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI)…. On March 1, 2021 the NSCAI released its final Report to the President and Congress (NSCAI Final Report) (see the press release). Of particular note, the NSCAI’s Final Report includes a chapter underscoring the importance of a strong intellectual property law system to U.S. national security interests tied to technological advancement.

Patenting Simulations at the EPO: Decision G1/19 and Its Consequences for Computer-Implemented Inventions

The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) recently published its decision No. G1/19 on patentability of simulations. There was great anticipation for such a decision, after landmark decisions 641/00 (COMVIK) and G3/08, mainly due to the ambiguous formulations of the questions of law to the Enlarged Board of Appeal. The result is “business as usual”, but several clarifications might be useful in the future. In the following, we first summarize the questions of law, the clarifications of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and then infer possible consequences for applicants and practitioners.

CAFC Affirms PTAB Rejection of Stanford Haplotype Phasing Patent Claims Under Alice

On March 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to hold the rejected claims from Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford) were not patent eligible because the claims are drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling. The examiner rejected claims 1, 4 to 11, 14 to 25, and 27 to 30 of U.S. Application Nos. 13/445,925 (‘925 application), “methods and computing systems for determining haplotype phase,” for involving patent ineligible subject matter. The CAFC applied the two-step framework under Alice v. CLS Bank to determine whether the claims were patent eligible.  

Bipartisan Group of Senators Asks Hirshfeld to Gather Info on Eligibility Law by Next Year

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Coons (D-DE) sent a letter on Friday to the Acting Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Drew Hirshfeld, asking him 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.

Balancing Innovation and Competition: Thomas Jefferson’s View of Obviousness for Mechanical Inventions

You cannot get a patent for an invention if it would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time. This is as true today as it was at the founding of our nation. The reason for this rule is clear—the obviousness-bar is necessary to balance rewarding innovation with free and fair competition. The Supreme Court has observed, alluding to the Constitution’s authorization for federal patents, “[w]ere it otherwise, patents might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful arts.” KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 427 (2007). While we all agree that obvious inventions should not be patented, the devil is in the details on how to draw that line between the obvious and the nonobvious.

Professors Tell SCOTUS to Correct the CAFC’s ‘Profound Misunderstanding’ in American Axle Case

In one of six amicus briefs filed this week in American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings, LLC—the closely-watched Section 101 patent eligibility case involving driveshaft automotive technology—Professors Jeffrey Lefstin and Peter Menell told the U.S. Supreme Court that the Federal Circuit’s 6-6 split decision to deny en banc rehearing in the case “mischaracterized fundamental patent principles and case law on which the modern patent system is built.” The professors added that “current § 101 jurisprudence conflates patent eligibility with the substantive requirements set forth in § 103 and § 112 and is getting more confusing by the day” and that “there is no patent law doctrine more in need of clarification.”