Posts Tagged: "Patent Reform"

Inventors Must Oppose the Draft Section 101 Legislation

When it was announced that I would be testifying to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on IP about Section 101, I was surprised. Not only did they grant a critic of the 101 roundtables a chance to speak, but not one inventor who used patents to fund a startup has testified in any patent-related hearing in decades. This gave me faith that Senators Tillis and Coons are serious about fixing 101 right by considering what inventors need. When the hearing was announced, several inventors contacted me. They wanted to personally tell their stories to Congress. They trusted the government to protect them, but instead lost their careers, their secrets, and their investments of hard work and money. A few even lost their families, their home, or their health. The inventors were happy about eliminating all 101 exceptions, but the draft language of 100(k) and 112(f) transfer the damage to those sections.

Congress Adds TERM Act and No Combination Drug Patents Act to List of Drug Patent Bills Being Considered

The growing debate over the effects of patents on the rising price of pharmaceuticals continues to encourage the introduction of drug pricing-focused bills in Congress over the past few months. Most recently, a pair of proposed bills have been introduced which seek to limit the ability to patent follow-on innovations involving medicines which have already received patent protection in one level of dosage or method of administration. On June 12, a press release announced the introduction of the Terminating the Extension of Rights Misappropriated (TERM) Act into the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is sponsored by a bipartisan coalition including Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Doug Collins (R-GA), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) and Ben Cline (R-VA). According to the release, this proposed law looks to change the burden of proving patentability of a drug-related invention under existing patent statute from generic drugmakers challenging drug patents to the pharmaceutical research and development firms filing patent applications.

After Alice: IP Stakeholders Comment on Alice’s Impact Five Years On

Since the Supreme Court issued its decision in Alice v. CLS Bank five years ago today, patent eligibility jurisprudence and practice have become increasingly chaotic—at least in the opinion of many IP stakeholders and the members of Congress who are spearheading the effort to rectify the situation. Today, to commemorate Alice’s five-year anniversary/ birthday, IPWatchdog posed the following—admittedly somewhat leading—statement to a cross-section of the IP community, and gave them a chance to agree or disagree with it. Many did not respond—including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Google—perhaps because of the sensitive moment in the history of patent eligibility law in which we find ourselves right now. However, the responses below do reflect a range of views on the impact of the case so far.

Perspective: Weakening Alice Will Weaken the U.S. Patent System’s Second Engine of Innovation

Today is Alice’s fifth birthday; some may not be celebrating, but as a birthday gift, John Vandenberg argues the decision was not new law and should not be abrogated. – On the third day of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee – IP Subcommittee’s hearings this month on whether to radically revise the standards for patent eligibility, I testified on behalf of our patent system’s under-appreciated second engine of innovation. Below are some of the key arguments I made in my oral and written testimony and my thoughts on why the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision was good law that should not be abrogated. Much of the anti-Alice commentary touts our patent system’s first engine of innovation, which uses the lure of monopoly profits or royalties to incentivize innovation and the public disclosure of those innovations. Today’s Sec. 101 jurisprudence is said to harm that first engine of innovation, particularly in life sciences where it is easier to get a patent in Europe and China than in the U.S., causing investment in personalized therapy and medicine R&D in the U.S. to suffer. While some question those factual premises, the “101 status quo” camp primarily responds that Alice (along with IPRs) has curtailed abusive patent troll litigation, cutting patent litigation costs by 40% or more. But, another important point has received little attention: expanding what can be patented, and how claimed, risks harming our patent system’s second engine of innovation.

Arguing Device-and-Method Eligibility Under the Present and Future States of U.S. Patent Law

Here’s the hypothetical: A patent application has been filed for a new medical device. The device reads various physiological signals from a patient and presents, with previously unheard-of accuracy and reliability, the condition of the patient’s immune system.

Your client, who made a heavy investment in research and development of this device, wants U.S. patent protection, and is willing to pursue remedies in court if necessary.

A patent application has been filed. The subject matter has been claimed as a device and as a method. The claimed method recites actions performed with the physical components of the device.
To your client’s disappointment, a hypothetical examiner has rejected the claims as patent ineligible under section 101. The examiner relied principally upon the case of Electric Power Group, LLC v. Alstom, 830 F.3d 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2018), concluding that the method claims and the device claims “are directed to a patent-ineligible concept, namely, collecting information, analyzing it, and displaying certain results of the collection and analysis.”  If the “directed to” inquiry means that patent eligibility depends upon what the device does, then the examiner has a legitimate point invoking the Electric Power case. Your client’s device does indeed collect information, analyze that information, and display the results of the analysis. Even though the examiner had a legitimate point, that does not mean the examiner is correct; but it does mean that there is a good chance that the examiner will not reverse the stated position on ineligibility. You have, therefore, advised your client of the foreseeability that your quest for patent protection will have to go to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and may well end up in court. Your client is ready to go the distance. Your immediate job is to respond to the pending rejection. You must argue in favor of patent eligibility under section 101. You must preserve the arguments you expect to make in the foreseeable appeals, even if you have confidence that the examiner’s ruling on patent eligibility will not be reversed by the examiner. You do not want to be in the position where an appellate tribunal points out that you are making arguments for the first time on appeal.

The Only Way to Counter False Claims on Patent Reform is to Enter the Debate

Coverage of the ongoing patent reform debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee by the popular press has been alarmist and largely incorrect. For example, even just yesterday—five days after the final hearing on patent eligibility reform concluded—the top story in Google’s patent alert results was “Corporations shouldn’t be able to patent your DNA,” which leads with the sentence, “The practice of patenting genes, once banned by the Supreme Court, may come back soon despite a measure of horror the very idea once inspired.” It would seem that those companies and entities that oppose reform to patent eligibility requirements are not going to meaningfully participate in the political process, and instead will wield their considerable PR machines in an effort to confuse, conflate and misdirect the public as part of their ongoing scheme to suppress innovation in America. Indeed, we know that the high-tech industry was invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but refused, as Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) explained at the second hearing. Why would the high-tech industry choose to ignore these Senate hearings, where many dozens of witnesses both for and against reform were invited to share their views?

This Week on Capitol Hill: Drone Security Developments, Clean Energy Innovations, and Think Tanks Look at Patent Reform and Drug Pricing

This week, the U.S. Senate will hold hearings on enhancing drone innovation and addressing cybersecurity concerns; reducing prescription drug prices; and developments in geothermal energy technologies. The House of Representatives will host a hearing on clean energy tech development as well as a markup meeting on a proposed bill to increase participation in STEM careers. Meanwhile, think tanks the American Enterprise Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will take a look at the patent reform debate with Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) and explore the potential effects of proposed drug pricing reforms on innovation in the pharmaceutical sector, respectively.

Supreme Court Denies 43rd Petition for Cert on 101 Grounds in Villena v. Iancu

Villena v. Iancu (Supreme Court Dkt. No. 18-1223), which is the 43rd patent eligibility case to be considered for certiorari since the notorious Alice Corp. decision, was denied cert. on June 10. Villena would have been the 45th patent eligibility case to be considered for certiorari, but the Supreme Court kicked the can over to the Solicitor General for both Vanda Pharmaceuticals and Berkheimer, which happen to be Alice/Mayo cases in which the Federal Circuit held the inventions at issue to be patent eligible. That’s no coincidence. The rough probability of waiting through 43 petitions outlining the capricious decisions from the lower courts before the Supreme Court might generate a “yes” to certiorari is well-above one standard deviation and approaching two standard deviations. It is beyond evident that the Supreme Court refuses to clean up its own mess and will continue to do so for the indefinite future.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, June 14: TERM Act Targets Patent Evergreening, Senate Patent Eligibility Hearings Wrap, and Huawei Seeks Patent Licenses From Verizon

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Supreme Court’s decision in Return Mail prohibits the federal government from petitioning for America Invents Act (AIA) patent validity trials; the TERM Act is introduced into the House of Representatives to reduce patent evergreening; the leadership of the Senate IP Subcommittee calls for a restoration of America’s patent system before wrapping up its third patent eligibility hearing; Huawei asks Verizon to license more than 200 patents; the Ninth Circuit decides to rehear “Stairway to Heaven” copyright case en banc; Princeton University and Facebook are targeted with copyright and trade secret claims for scraping 3D image database; and the U.S. ban on supplying components to Huawei leads to decrease in Broadcom’s revenue.

IPWatchdog to Host Its First-Ever Annual Meeting and Conference Next March

IPWatchdog will host its first Annual Meeting and Conference from March 15-18, 2020. The event will take place at the Renaissance Dallas Richardson in Dallas, Texas. Registration will begin on Sunday, March 15, followed by an opening General Session, and then an Opening Reception. We will begin Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 with breakfast. Each morning will feature two General Sessions, followed by lunch, and then a series of breakout panels in the afternoon. A Networking Cocktail Reception will be held both Monday night and Tuesday night. We hope everyone will stay and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with us on Tuesday evening, March 17. We will conclude with an ethics breakfast on Wednesday, March 18, which will provide two hours of ethics credit for those attorneys in attendance.

Final Panelists at Senate 101 Hearings Stress Real-World Effects of Status Quo, Tillis Signals Changes to Draft Text

After three hearings and 45 witnesses, there were few new fundamental arguments advanced for or against reforming patent eligibility law at today’s final Senate IP Subcommittee hearing on the topic, but several key—and some alarming—messages were underscored. A few takeaways off the bat: there are going to be considerable changes to the working draft. In particular, there were four issues that Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) noted were raised repeatedly. First, both sides agreed the new proposed definition of “utility,” which requires “sufficient and practical utility in any field of technology through human intervention” needs to be further defined; those for reform felt that the language could be too narrowly interpreted, while those against feared it was not definite enough. “Clearly, those terms need better definition or more meat on the bones,” Tillis said. Secondly, everyone was concerned with Section 112(f). Tillis pointed to the practical argument made by inventor Paul Morinville about the impossibility of meeting that requirement in the context of software coding language, for example, while Tillis said the tech companies were afraid the language wasn’t strong enough to weed out overbroad software and business method claims that most agree should not be patent eligible.

Two Observations on Last Week’s Senate Hearings on Patent Eligibility Reform

Last week, all eyes were on the first two days of historic Senate Judiciary IP Subcommittee Hearings, led by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chair of the Subcommittee, and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee. The purpose of the hearing was simple: to determine a fix for the disaster foisted upon the industry by the patent eligibility jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of the United States. The testimony of the first 30 witnesses has already been summarized, so there is no need for me to dive into the particulars of who said what here. Suffice it to say that the Subcommittee heard a range of opinions—some better supported than others.

This Week on Capitol Hill: Third Patent Eligibility Hearing, AI National Security Challenges, and NASA’s Science Mission

This week on Capitol Hill, the Senate IP Subcommittee will hold its third and final hearing on patent eligibility issues that currently exist in the U.S. patent system. Elsewhere in the Senate, hearings will focus on privacy issues posed by data brokers as well as Federal Communications Commission oversight. Hearings over at the House of Representatives will discuss topics including NASA’s science mission, sexual harassment issues within the scientific professions, and research leading towards increased use of renewable energy sources. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will also host an event to explore new tax models affecting U.S.-based Internet services companies.

Gene Patent/Drug Pricing Concerns and Unintended Consequences Dominate Second Senate Hearing on 101

Wednesday’s Senate hearing on patent eligibility reform, which began more than 30 minutes late due to votes on the floor, opened with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) reiterating that his goal in holding three hearings on this topic and receiving testimony from 45 witnesses, which is not common, is to address the major concerns on all sides of the debate. Tillis noted that he and Coons had specifically invited many of the high-tech companies that do not appear on any of the rosters for the three hearings, but they chose not to participate and instead to be represented by David Jones, Executive Director of the High Tech Inventors Alliance (HTIA), who spoke today. While Tillis said, “that’s ok,” he noted that “silence is consent. What we want here is people working out of the shadows, collaboratively.” HTIA’s members include Amazon, Google, Adobe, Intel, Cisco, Oracle, Dell, and Salesforce. Many of today’s panelists raised more substantive issues with the proposed section 100(k) and 112(f) than did yesterday’s speakers. Section 100(k)defines the term “useful” in the new section 101 and section 100(f) would eliminate functional claiming. Barbara Fiacco, representing AIPLA; Henry Hadad of Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) President; Paul Morinville of U.S. Inventor; and Phil Johnson, representing the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, all raised various concerns about one or both of these sections. Notably, Hadad said that IPO has not yet taken an official position on the draft, although it meshes with its own 101 proposal, and Fiacco said that AIPLA feels 112(f) and 100(k) are areas for “further consideration.” In addition to Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tillis, Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked several questions of the panelists.

Industry Speaks: Roster for Last Senate Hearing on 101 Released

In the midst of the first two hearings on reforming patent eligibility law, the Senate IP Subcommittee has published the witness list for next week’s final hearing on Section 101 reform, to be held on Tuesday, June 11. Again, it is decidedly pro-patent compared with previous congressional hearings on patent issues. As with the first two hearings, the Senators will hear from three separate panels of five witnesses each. The first panel will include Manny Schecter of IBM, who has noted in past articles for IPWatchdog that some of the most groundbreaking inventions of our time would likely fail or be invalidated under the current patent eligibility landscape. He will be joined by Laurie Self, Senior Vice-President and Counsel, Government Affairs, at Qualcomm; Byron Holz, Senior Intellectual Property Rights Licensing Counsel at Nokia; Kimberly Chotkowski, Vice President, Head of Licensing Strategy and Operations at InterDigital; and Sean Reilly, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel at the Clearing House Payments Company.