Posts Tagged: "patentability requirements"

AMP v. USPTO Remand: Déjà Vu as Federal Circuit Majority Reaffirms Myriad’s Isolated DNA Sequences Are Patent-Eligible*

The other point that also bears repeating (and quoting) from the majority opinion in the AMP remand is Judge Lourie’s response to the so-called “preemption” question: “Plaintiffs argue here that they are preempted from using the patented DNA molecules. The answer to that concern is that permitting patents on isolated genes does not preempt a law of nature. A composition of matter is not a law of nature. Moreover, as indicated earlier, a limited preemption is inherent in every patent: the right to exclude for a limited period of time.”

UK Perspective: Bancorp Services v. Sun Life Assurance

The EPO applies what might be referred to as a “subtraction” test for claims containing a mixture of patent-eligible and patent-ineligible features, those features that are patent-ineligible being disregarded and novelty and obviousness under aa. 54 and 56 EPC being evaluated on the basis of the remaining features. Judge Lourie suggested a somewhat similar “subtraction” test here.

Bancorp Services: Further Fracturing of the Patent Eligibility Landscape for Business Methods and Systems*

In holding the method, system, and media claims of the ‘792 and ‘037 patents to “cover no more than abstract ideas and therefore do no recite patent-eligible subject matter,” Judge Lourie’s opinion trivializes the relevance of computer implementation in these claims. That’s brought out when he later says that the “interchangeability of certain mental processes and basic digital computation” makes the “use of a computer in an otherwise patent-ineligible process for no more than its most basic function” (i.e., making calculations or computations) inadequate “to circumvent the prohibition against patenting abstract ideas and mental processes.” In fact, Judge Lourie went even further by saying that “a computer must be integral to the claimed invention, facilitating the process in a way that a person making calculations or computations could not” to “salvage an otherwise patent-ineligible process,” citing the 2010 case of SiRF Technology, Inc. v. ITC (method for calculating the position of a GPS receiver satisfied the MOT test). In other words, computer implementation of the claimed business method (or system) must be absolutely necessary to its usefulness to satisfy Judge Lourie’s criteria for reaching the patent-eligibility zone.

The U.S. Government’s Position in ACLU v. Myriad Genetics: Observations on a ‘Waste of Time and Space’

So maybe the Federal Circuit won’t find “preemption” to be useful in deciding this appeal; we’ll know soon enough. I, for one, can’t make sense of the DOJ’s fixation on “tying up.” In Flook, the Supreme Court made clear that a claim’s patent-eligibility does not turn on the range of uses that are preempted versus those that remain in the public domain. Even in Mayo, the Supreme Court discussed preemption explicitly only as an underlying policy concern, as a justification for an outcome that, to the Court, seemed right and just – not as a test that distinguishes a “law of nature” from a man-made process. By elevating “tying up” to the status of an actual analytical tool, DOJ proposes an unworkable test that fails to distinguish “products of nature” from man-made inventions and leads to absurd outcomes. It asks the Federal Circuit to rely on asserted facts and unstated claim constructions. It requires strained interpretations of leading precedent. It is evasive and avoids the hard work of construing the claims and applying them to the activities believed to be “tied up” – lawyer work that, if undertaken, may or may not show that the preemptive scope of these claims isn’t all it’s trumped up to be.

CLS Bank International: A Fractured Landscape of Patent Eligibility for Business Methods and Systems*

These polar opposite decisions in CyberSource and Ultramercial illustrate how fractured the Federal Circuit’s patent-eligibility landscape has now become for business methods and systems. The most recent split decision in CLS Bank International v. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. where a claimed trading platform for exchanging business obligations survived a validity challenge under 35 U.S.C. § 101 epitomizes this problem. As CLS Bank International unfortunately shows, an objective standard for judging the patent-eligibility of business methods and systems remains elusive, subject to an ever growing “tug-of-war” between the “inclusive” and “restrictive” patent-eligibility factions of the Federal Circuit. In particular, after CLS Bank International, we are no closer to having a judicially accepted definition of what is (or is not) an “abstract idea” when it comes to claiming business methods and systems.

Understanding Obviousness: John Deere and the Basics

When approaching an obviousness determination it is essential to understand what makes the invention unique. It is also necessary to start to envision the arguments that can be made to distinguish the invention over the totality of the prior art. This is required because when a patent examiner deals with issues of obviousness they will look at a variety of references and pull one element from one reference and another element of the invention from another reference. Ultimately the patent examiner will see if they can find all the pieces, parts and functionality of the invention in the prior art, and indicating that a combination of the prior art references discloses your invention. There is more to it than just finding every piece and part, because on some level all inventions are made up of known pieces, parts and functionality. The true inquiry is to determine whether the combination of the pieces, parts and functionality found within the applicable technology field of the invention would be considered to be within the “common sense” of one of skill in the art such that the invention is merely a trivial rearrangement of what is already known to exist.

Patentability Overview: Obviousness and Adequate Description

In a nutshell, an invention would be obvious when someone knowledgable about the area would look at your invention and consider it to be already known; not exactly but rather known if one were to combine several references. In other words, the predictable and non-unique combination of what multiple references teach would yield your invention. The prototypical example is when you have invented A+B. A is known in the prior art, and B is known in the prior art. Upon looking at A and then looking at B, would someone of skill in the art consider A+B to be already known? If the answer is yes, then A+B is obvious. If the answer is no, then A+B is not obvious.

Patentability Overview: When can an Invention be Patented?

Unfortunately, the patentability requirements are frequently misunderstood, including by the United States Supreme Court. For many who are not well versed in patent law one of the reasons it can be confusing when considering patentability is due to the fact that the first of the patentability requirements asks whether the invention exhibits patentable subject matter. This is sometimes phrased in terms of patent eligibility, which leads the many anti-patent zealots and other patent neophytes to erroneously conclude that if an invention is patent eligible then a patent issues. Nothing could be further from the truth, but those who hate the patent system aren’t exactly concerned with facts or reality. So what is required for an invention to be patented?

A Guide to Limiting the Damage Done by the Supremes in Mayo

Now the Patent Office and the courts have the unenviable task of trying to figure out what the Supreme Court really meant in Mayo v. Prometheus. If Diehr remains good law, which it clearly does, and Mayo v. Prometheus is good law, which it has to be as the last pronouncement, then it becomes clear that the proper statutory analysis is to go step by step through the statute analyzing patentability under the separate and distinct patentability requirements of 101, 102, 103 and 112. That is unless there is something that allows for the short-circuiting of the appropriate analysis as in Mayo v. Prometheus. What is that something?

Prometheus v. Mayo – The Wrong Rat?

A decision with the right outcome but for the wrong reasons can confound jurisprudence nearly as much as a decision that is entirely wrong. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that all that found its way into the Siedman patents was the results of the very research that had been recommended in the 1996 paper and which Prometheus had been prompted to under-write. The more natural objection which, unfortunately, was not pursued was therefore lack of inventive step under 35 USC §103. It is submitted that this should have been enough to dispose of the issue between the parties, arguably even in a motion for summary judgment, but unfortunately it was not how the case was pleaded and argued.

Divining What Mayo Means: Exploring the SmartGene Case*

Trying to divine what Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. means for the future in judging the patent-eligibility of claimed methods and processes under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is like using a Ouija board. The first inkling came 10 days after Mayo Collaborative Services in a motion for partial summary judgment in SmartGene, Inc. v. Advanced Biological Laboratories, SA, a case from the District Court of Columbia. When I first read this case, my initial reaction was “oh no, here comes the collateral damage we feared would come from Mayo Collaborative Services.” But having reflected on this case some more, and especially the claims involved, I think Judge Howell’s ultimate conclusion of patent-ineligibility of the claimed process and system under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is defendable. Even so, the reasoning expressed in Judge Howell’s opinion for reaching that conclusion gives pause for concern about the impact of Mayo Collaborative Services on rendering consistent and objective determinations of patent-eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Insiders React to Supreme Court Prometheus Decision

Just over three weeks ago the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, which sent much of the patent world into a whirlwind. In that decision the Supreme Court unanimously found that the claims at issue did not exhibit patent eligible subject matter because the additional steps that were added to the underlying law of nature were well known in the industry. A curious ruling for many reasons, and one that will have to be digested over many years as the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Circuit struggle to figure out how Diamond v. Diehr remains good law (it was not overruled) and remains consistent with a ruling that seems completely inapposite. To continue to provide a variety of perspectives on this landmark ruling what follows is the reactions of those in the industry.

The Way Forward from Mayo Collaborative Services is through the Classen Immunotherapies Remand*

The reasoning in Mayo Collaborative Services makes no patent law logical sense on numerous grounds, including disregarding an important paragraph in the Supreme Court’s 1981 case of Diamond v. Diehr that is not only binding precedent, but also tells us that Breyer’s opinion repeatedly does what this paragraph from Diehr says not to do in an analysis of method or process claims under 35 U.S.C. § 101. But the question now becomes what do we do to keep the reasoning in Mayo Collaborative Services from exploding into completely irrational, as well as patent law insane doctrine? The way forward to patent-eligibility rationality, as well as sanity, is through the remand decision in Classen Immunotherapies, Inc. v. Biogen IDEC. Put differently, there may yet be “light” in this currently “dark” patent-eligibility tunnel.

The Prometheus Decision: No Worries, No Problem

Unlike many in the biotech community I do not think the Prometheus decision will break the biotech industry or even seriously affect it. Much like the car mechanic in a small Caribbean island told me when my engine light came on in my rental car, “no worries, no problem!” I believe the holding in Prometheus prevents what could be a future legal quagmire, where overly-broad patents could serve to block entire fields of practice and create an enforcement nightmare in which ghosts of legal uncertainty and licensing ambiguities would haunt hospital hallways, R&D labs, boardrooms, and investment entities throughout the country. If the Prometheus decision would have gone the other way, it would not have been status quo, but rather been fairly harmful to future innovation.

Selective Precedent Amnesia: The Nonsensical Reasoning in the Supreme Court’s Mayo Collaborative Services Decision Part 3*

You could attribute what happened here to “selective precedent amnesia.” But frankly such mishandling of binding Supreme Court precedent in Mayo Collaborative Services is a huge problem. (As one commentator has astutely noted, we now have Supreme Court precedent going off in two diametrically opposed directions on essentially the same patent-eligibility issue.) Any persuasiveness (or balance) in the opinion in Mayo Collaborative Services is greatly undermined by failing to directly (and fairly) address Diehr.