Posts Tagged: "Patent Reform"

Damage to Our Patent System by Failure to Honor the U.S. Legal Framework: Double Patenting

As the summer winds down, it is time again to focus on how to fix the U.S. patent system. In June, the Senate Judiciary’s IP Subcommittee held unprecedented hearings on patent eligibility. They are now back in closed door sessions with selected stakeholders to further consider language to amend Section 101, having received extensive feedback. My testimony in part addressed the unconstitutionality of the U.S. Supreme Court’s cases on patent eligibility, which have created judicial exceptions that arrogantly ignore the plain wording of Congress’ statute (“invention or discovery” in the disjunctive in Sections 100(a), (f) and (g) and Section 101) and its legislative history, and despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the sole power to create patent law. The doctrine of judicially-created non-statutory obviousness-type double patenting is the flip side of the coin of the patent eligibility issues.  A rejection for “non-statutory obviousness-type” double patenting is based on a “judicially-created doctrine” grounded in public policy and which is primarily intended to prevent prolongation of the patent term by prohibiting claims in a second patent not patentably distinct from claims in a first patent. This is problematic for at least the following reasons.

Trading Technologies Files New Request for En Banc Rehearing of ‘Ladder Tool’ Patent Decision at Federal Circuit

On August 15, Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT) petitioned the Federal Circuit again for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc of its recent decision that found TT’s Ladder Tool invention to be subject to the USPTO’s Covered Business Method (CBM) review process and abstract under Section 101. TT argues that the PTAB did not follow the precedent of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) when reviewing its patent claims. The latest brief relates to U.S. Patent No. 7,725,382 (the ‘382 patent), while TT’s request for rehearing filed July 31 related to U.S. Patent No. 7,693,768.

Chief Points from Responses to Senator Hirono’s Questions to Section 101 Panelists

Yesterday, we ran a series of excerpts from responses to Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) questions for the record to panelists following the June hearings on U.S. patent eligibility law, held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Along with Tillis and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) also posed several questions to the participants in the 101 hearings. Hirono’s questions overall demonstrate a good faith desire to get to the heart of the problems in search of real solutions.

As Stakeholders Await New 101 Bill, Responses to Tillis Underscore Need for Movement

Last month, we reported on the responses submitted to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) by panelists who participated in the June hearings on the state of U.S. patent eligibility, held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Blumenthal entered a series of questions for the record to be answered by certain participants. While movement on the bill appears to be stalled for the time being, with reports that Tillis and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) have reinstituted the stakeholder roundtables that led up to the draft bill and hearings in the first place, it’s worth reviewing some of the responses to Tillis’ questions as the IP community waits for the next move. From David O. Taylor’s statistic that 62% of investors he surveyed said they were less likely to invest in companies where patent protection is not available, to Bob Armitage’s characterization of the draft bill’s revision to Section 112(f) as “perfect,” to the Cleveland Clinic’s statement that they are currently less likely to make the necessary investments to bring new advances in diagnostics to market, these responses are a reminder of what’s at stake.

Note to President Trump: Silicon Valley Pirates Are a Bigger Threat to Intellectual Property Than China

There is a lot of focus—and rightly so—on China’s stealing of U.S. intellectual property (IP). Recently, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow stated on CNBC’s Squawk Box that China has stolen at least $600 billion in American IP. Additionally, one in five North American-based corporations on the CNBC Global CFO Council said that Chinese companies have stolen their IP within the last year. In all, 7 of the 23 companies surveyed said that Chinese firms have stolen from them over the past decade. The annual cost to the U.S. economy for these actions is estimated to be greater than $600 billion. While this is a serious matter that must continue to be addressed, domestic theft of U.S. IP is just as bad if not worse. It is easy to point fingers at China, given their track record, but small U.S. companies and inventors are not having their dreams extinguished by the Chinese. They are being victimized by Silicon Valley’s big tech companies, which make billions of dollars using their stolen IP.

Other Barks & Bites, Friday, August 16: Iancu to Brief CAFC on Precedential Opinion Panel Deference, China to Regulate Patent Agencies, and FCC Approves T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

This week in Other Barks & Bites: The Federal Circuit has asked USPTO Director Andrei Iancu to brief the appellate court on deference that should be paid to precedential PTAB opinions; China announced that it will create a credit rating mechanism for patent agents; Russ Slifer Op-Ed revives 101 debate; the FCC will approve the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger; amicus briefs filed at the Supreme Court support the abrogation of state sovereign immunity against copyright claims; Nintendo ramps up copyright campaign against YouTube accounts using video game music; Guns N’ Roses settles trademark dispute over craft beer brand; and copyright troll entity Malibu Media faces investor lawsuit.

Apple’s Multiple Petitions Against Nartron Patent Underscore PTAB’s Serial IPR Problem

Last week, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued 18 institution decisions based on petitions for inter partes review (IPR) proceedings, instituting 10 and denying eight. One of those denials ended a petition from Apple to challenge a touch screen patent owned by Nartron, although the PTAB instituted two other IPRs on the same patent the following Monday, giving rise to questions about whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is effectively dealing with the issue of multiple petitions at the PTAB. Elsewhere, a pair of KOM Software patents asserted in separate district court proceedings against NetApp and Hewlett Packard each had two IPRs instituted against them after the patent infringement defendants teamed up to file petitions.

Other Barks & Bites, August 2: VirnetX Patent Claims Revived, AIA Trial Fees Increased, and CAFC Rules in Celgene that AIA Trials Do Not Violate the Fifth Amendment

This week in Other Barks & Bites: The Federal Circuit issues several precedential decisions, including one reviving the patent claims in VirnetX and another determining that America Invents Act (AIA) validity trials don’t violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause in Celgene. This week in Other Barks & Bites: The Federal Circuit issues several precedential decisions, including one reviving the patent claims in VirnetX and another determining that America Invents Act (AIA) validity trials don’t violate the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause in Celgene; the USPTO proposes fee increases to patent examination and AIA trials and issues a final rule on e-filing in trademark registrations; Katy Perry is ordered to pay $2.7 million for copyright infringement; free OTA TV service Locast is targeted in a copyright suit filed by Disney and other major broadcasters; Pfizer and Mylan consider creating a global giant in off-patent drugs; the University of California files patent suits against major retailers over LED light bulb technology; and patent applications listing artificial intelligence machine inventor are filed in patent offices across the world.

Patent Heavyweights Take Strong Stance Against ACLU Anti-Patent Reform Statements

Yesterday, 24 law professors, former Chief Judges of the Federal Circuit and former heads of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sent a letter to Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Doug Collins (R-GA) aimed at correcting what the letter characterizes as “misapprehensions of law and misleading rhetoric” on the subject of pending patent reform legislation. The letter makes specific reference to statements made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claiming that the draft legislation to amend Section 101 of the patent law “if enacted would authorize patenting products and laws of nature, abstract ideas, and other general fields of knowledge.” The authors of yesterday’s letter, which included Retired Federal Circuit Chief Judges Randall Rader and Paul Michel and former USPTO Directors Todd Dickinson and David Kappos, called such statements “profoundly mistaken and inaccurate” and laid out in detail the specific inaccuracies. Rather than expanding the scope of 101 to abstract ideas and laws of nature, said the letter, “the proposed amendments preclude ‘implicit or judicially created exceptions to subject matter eligibility,’” and do not eliminate existing constitutional and statutory bars.

Consider the Courage of Judge Newman at the Federal Circuit

With more dissents than any other Federal Circuit Judge in history,  Judge Pauline Newman is driven by a need to safeguard our national system of innovation. Judge Newman has argued throughout the years that the Federal Circuit was created to rebuild and renew the patent system to encourage and incentivize industry, which is precisely the purpose both the Carter and Reagan Administrations had in mind when advocating for the creation of the Federal Circuit, which ultimately took form in 1982. Judge Newman has no qualms about speaking out in dissents when the objective of the Federal Circuit to bring certainty to U.S. patent laws is being hindered, in her view, by the majority, regardless of the complexities or dollar-values at stake in the case. In fact, in one interview she declared, “I have not hesitated to comment when I think that a panel isn’t going in quite [the] appropriate direction. Others have felt that perhaps I haven’t gone in quite the appropriate direction . . . . [A]ll in all it seems to me that it’s quite healthy to present a certain amount of turmoil to practitioners in the short run. But in the long-run I think the law is better for it.” George C. Beighley, Jr., “The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit: Has It Fulfilled Congressional Expectations?,” 21 FORDHAM INTELL. PROP. MEDIA & ENT. L.J. 671, 675–76 (2011). Clearly, she is interested in getting the law right for the greater good as she sees it, regardless of the impact her dissent may have on relationships or status quo.

Antitrust Laws Are Not Enough to Kill Big Tech Monopolies

The United States is looking to antitrust law to break up big tech. Later today, for example, the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law will be meeting for a hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 2: Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” Unfortunately, this may have become necessary, but it will not solve the problem of big tech monopolies. That can only be solved by understanding how big tech creates megamarkets and how they use shadow patent systems to regulate and perpetuate their monopolies—a power traditionally reserved for sovereigns. A patent is nothing but an exclusive right. All it can do is remove an infringer from the market. That incredible power enables startups to attract investment, commercialize new technologies, and challenge incumbents. The value of a patent is dependent on demand and market size. Since national borders establish the market size, the larger the country, the larger the market, and the more valuable a patent can become. But big tech markets are not restricted to national borders, so they get larger. Apple has 1.4 billion active devices reaching four times the 327 million population of the United States.

The Federal Circuit Must Revisit Its Imprudent Decision in Chargepoint v. SemaConnect

I recently authored an article for IPWatchdog arguing that the Federal Circuit in ChargePoint Inc. v. SemaConnect, Inc., (2018-1739) effectively overruled the new U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent eligibility guidance. In my opinion, the ChargePoint decision was the very case that the Supreme Court in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank warned would swallow all of patent law. After all, the Federal Circuit had the opportunity to take the Court’s caution seriously and interpret the abstract-based eligibility decision narrowly. It did not. Hoping for the remote chance the court will correct its error, I filed an amicus brief seeking rehearing en banc. My blunt assessment of the court’s reasoning and repercussions has been called inflammatory by SemaConnect. But it was the Supreme Court’s warning, not mine.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, July 12: Final Rule on Drug Prices in TV Ads Blocked, Huawei Pronounced Top Chinese Patent Earner, and Brazil Joins Madrid Agreement

This week in Other Barks & Bites: The Trump Administration’s Final Rule that would have required list prices of drugs to be displayed in television ads is blocked by the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C.; the STRONGER Patents Act is reintroduced into both houses of Congress; the leadership of the Senate IP Subcommittee releases a statement on the splintered Federal Circuit en banc denial in Athena; the U.S. Copyright Office designates the mechanical licensing collective; Huawei is the top earner of Chinese patents thus far in 2019; Intel enters a period of exclusive talks in its wireless patent auction; T-Mobile and Sprint extend their merger deadline; Amazon launches initiative to retrain 100,000 employees for high-tech positions; and major drugmakers ask the Supreme Court to take up a patent case involving functional claiming issues.

How Senate IP Subcommittee Witnesses on Patent Eligibility Responded to Questions from Senator Blumenthal

Through the first half of June, a series of hearings on the state of patent eligibility in America held by the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee rendered a variety of interesting exchanges regarding current U.S. subject matter eligibility under Section 101 relating to various important sectors of the U.S. economy. During the second hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) talked to panelists regarding his concerns about patent abuses in the pharmaceutical industry. During his period of questioning, Blumenthal grilled witnesses on the subject of whether the expansion of subject matter eligibility that would result from the proposed Section 101 draft text would exacerbate issues related to “patent thicketing,” a process by which drug companies attain large patent portfolios covering various aspects of a single drug formulation. Along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Blumenthal entered a series of questions for the record to be answered by panelists attending the recent patent eligibility hearings. Although the questions don’t overtly single out the pharmaceutical industry, panelist answers largely indicate that this sector was on most people’s mind while responding.

Coons and Stivers Reintroduce Measure to Make the U.S. Patent System STRONGER

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) reintroduced the STRONGER Patents Act of 2019 today in an event on Capitol Hill. Coons first introduced the STRONG Patents Act in 2015, which then became the STRONGER Patents Act in 2017. This latest iteration, like the iterations before, seeks to take a number of steps to strengthen patent protections and…