Posts Tagged: "Patentability"

Rently Asks Full Federal Circuit to Rehear Lockbox Patent Eligibility Case

Last week, Consumer 2.0, Inc. d/b/a Rently filed a combined petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) to review its recent Rule 36 judgment affirming a decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that Rently’s patent claims were ineligible. The district court found the claims, which were directed to “the use of lockboxes able to recognize time-limited codes and coordination of those codes with software to facilitate secure automated entry”, ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Among other arguments, Rently noted that the case raised multiple issues that required en banc review, including whether unconventionality alone is sufficient to satisfy the inventive concept requirement under Section 101, whether the determination of unconventionality is one of law or fact, and whether a court is permitted to conduct a quasi-Section 103 analysis of obviousness without the protections against hindsight bias.

How Misaligned Incentives Are Now Killing Us

Today, like so much of the rest of the world, the United States is faced with many shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic, including personal protective equipment, basic medical supplies, and qualified medical staff. Of course, the lack of treatments or vaccine is a huge problem. Another secular problem is the lack of a quick, inexpensive, reliable test for the virus. But a test for the virus is a diagnostic method, and that is a big problem for U.S. patent laws because diagnostic methods are simply not patent eligible in the United States. This is also a big problem for the world because ever since the veil of patent eligibility was lifted for the life sciences sector in 1981 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the U.S. has dominated the biotechnology sector, specifically, and life science sectors more generally speaking. In 1981, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates saying that what was created by man could be patented, and if it could be owned it could be invested in, and investors rushed in and the biotechnology industry that we know today was born. But what the Supreme Court gave they can, and ultimately did, take away.

Focusing on the Details: What Two Recent USPTO Matters Can Teach Us About Patentability Analyses

Two matters currently pending before the United States Patent and Trademark Office illustrate the consequences of focusing upon details of a claim rather than upon the claimed subject matter as a whole. Looked at superficially, the decisions may be consistent with the law and supported by substantial evidence; but are they, really?

Judge Paul Michel to Patent Masters Attendees: It’s Time to Wake Up to Preserve Our Patent System

Retired Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Paul Michel told registrants of IPWatchdog’s Virtual Patent Masters program taking place today  that the U.S. patent system has been “weakened to the point of being dysfunctional.” This dysfunction has been especially harmful to small businesses and startups, as well as to innovation in the life sciences industry—which we need now more than ever. Asked by IPWatchdog CEO and Founder Gene Quinn whether the coronavirus pandemic may be a wakeup call to those in power about the importance of incentivizing innovation in the life sciences area, Judge Michel noted that experts in the vaccine industry have indicated that China now dominates vaccine research and production. “The current circumstances may shift the thinking of policy makers quite suddenly and quite far,” Michel said. “We definitely are crimping the human health efforts for prevention and cure of symptoms. Let’s hope this really is a wakeup call for our leaders.”

CAFC Partially Reverses PTAB on Claim Construction Analysis, Says Prosecution History Matters

The Federal Circuit on Friday reversed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision holding certain claims of Personalized Media Communications, LLC’s (PMC’s) U.S. Patent No. 8,191,091 (the ’091 Patent) unpatentable on anticipation and obviousness grounds but affirmed the decision as to the remaining claims. The Court found that the Board erred in its claim construction of one of the claim terms at issue due to its dismissal of the prosecution history. The Board rejected PMC’s reliance on the prosecution history, stating “the prosecution history presents a murky picture as opposed to a clear waiver.” The Federal Circuit disagreed with this approach and found that the prosecution history statements supported PMC’s interpretation and construction of the phrase “encrypted digital information transmission.”

Google Gets Green Light at PTAB in Challenge to Variable Media Playback Patents

On February 21, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a pair of institution-phase decisions in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings petitioned by Internet tech giant Google, both of which challenge claims of a patent owned by Virentem Ventures and asserted in a District of Delaware infringement case against Google subsidiary YouTube. Although the PTAB denied institution to one of the IPRs, institution of the other Google IPR threatens each patent claim that has been asserted against variable speed audio/video playback services enabled by YouTube and Google products. With the IPR proceeding instituted, Virentem Ventures is now facing IPR proceedings instituted upon six of its patents asserted against Google in Delaware.

PTAB Delivers Win for Apple in IPR on CDMA Patent

In IPR 2018-01472, brought by Apple Inc., HTC Corporation, HTC America, Inc., and ZTE (USA) Inc. (Apple), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) last week determined all challenged claims of INVT SPE LLC’s (INVT) Patent No. 6,466,563 to be unpatentable as obvious. The ‘563 patent is titled “CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access] Mobile Station and CDMA Transmission Method” and was issued on October 15, 2002. The patent describes an addition of burst data to the end of a transmission “allow[ing] synchronization with the base station apparatus to be maintained,” thus “making it possible to restart communication immediately.” The transmission interval control circuit also “controls the transmission interval of burst data to N times one slot (N: a natural number) at the end of transmission” to conserve power consumption.

Inherency in Obviousness: Lessons From Persion v. Alvogen

When can an inherent property add patentable weight in the context of obviousness? Over the years, the Federal Circuit has shed light on this question in a number of cases. Persion Pharmaceuticals v. Alvogen Malta Operations Ltd., Docket No. 2018-2361 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 27, 2019) (Persion v. Alvogen) is the most recent decision to address this question. In Persion, the Federal Circuit affirmed the conclusion of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware that asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,265,760 (“the ’760 patent”) and 9,339,499 (“the ’499 patent”) are invalid as obvious because the feature at issue was inherent in the prior art.

WIPO Publishes Submissions on AI and IP Policy

Twenty-two member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), more than 100 organizations, and over 100 individuals have submitted comments and suggestions in response to WIPO’s Draft Issues Paper on IP Policy and AI. The submissions have been posted in the form and in the languages in which they were received on WIPO’s website. The comments will feed into a revised issues paper for discussion at the second session of the WIPO Conversation on IP and AI, which takes place in Geneva in May 2020.

Time to Close the Gap: Is the PTAB Looking at Prosecution Histories in IPRs?

If a recent decision denying institution of an inter partes review (IPR) is any indicator, the answer to the titular question seems to be no, the Board does not routinely review a challenged patent’s prosecution history—even when the history includes a prior Board decision construing claim terms at issue in the IPR. In Apple Inc. v. Uniloc 2017 LLC, IPR2019-00753, Paper 7 (PTAB. Sep. 16, 2019), the Board majority denied institution, finding certain claimed subject matter missing from Apple’s prior art—despite the Board’s earlier finding in a prosecution appeal that the very same subject matter was disclosed and obvious based on different prior art. Making the apparent oversight even more remarkable, one member of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) majority had actually authored the earlier prosecution appeal decision.

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Obviousness Finding, But Warns Samsung Board’s Authority to Cancel Claims Has Limits

The Federal Circuit in a precedential decision issued earlier today affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s finding that Claim 11 of Prisua Engineering Corp.’s U.S. Patent No. 8,650,591 was unpatentable as obvious, and reversed and remanded for further consideration the Board’s finding that the other asserted claims were indefinite and could not be assessed for patentability under Sections 102 or 103. IPR2017-01188 was Samsung’s response to Prisua’s 2016 patent infringement lawsuit against the company, which alleged that Samsung’s “Best Face” feature infringed claims 1, 3, 4, and 8 of the ’591 patent. In that case, a jury in the Southern District of Florida ultimately found that Samsung had willfully infringed the asserted claims and awarded Prisua $4.3 million in damages, but that action was stayed pending the CAFC appeal.

CAFC Rules PTAB Did Not Err in Finding Philips Patent Obvious in Light of General Knowledge of POSITA

On January 30, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeals Board’s (PTAB) decision rendering claims 1-11 of U.S. Patent No. 7,529,806 (the ‘806 patent) obvious. The ‘806 patent, owned by Koninklijke Philips (Philips) is directed toward improved playback of digital content on a client device through reducing delay. The patent covers a method for forming media presentations using a control information file that does two things: (a) provides the media presentation in various alternative formats, allowing a client device’s media player to “choose the format compatible with the client’s play-out capabilities” opposed to using two way intelligence between the client and server software; and (b) provides the presentation in multiple files so that subsequent files download at the same time as files are played back.

Time to Wake Up: Stakeholders Must Compromise to Save the U.S. Patent System

Things are bad for many innovators and there is little hope for improvement on the foreseeable horizon. Despite the best efforts of Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), efforts to reform America’s patent system for the better have stalled to the point that the Senate IP Subcommittee is moving on from patent matters and will focus on copyright reform throughout 2020. “Given the reasonable concerns that have been expressed about the draft as well as the practical realities of the difficulty of passing legislation, absent stakeholder consensus I don’t see a path forward for producing a bill—much less steering it to passage—in this Congress,” Senator Tillis told the Intellectual Property Owners Association in an interview published earlier today. Sources tell IPWatchdog that it is not inconceivable that the Subcommittee will steer back toward patent issues – namely patent eligibility reform – but disagreement among the interested constituencies has shelved any hope for patent eligibility reform. Shockingly, the disagreement that has shelved the long-awaited legislative fix for 35 U.S.C. 101 is among those who support reform. It seems the various constituencies that want 101 reform have their own demands and – if you can believe it – would prefer no change to a change that doesn’t give them 100% of what they are seeking.

Supreme Court Denies Trading Technologies, ChargePoint Petitions

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied two petitions for certiorari filed by Trading Technologies and one by ChargePoint, Inc. asking the Court to review their cases related to the patent eligibility of their inventions. Trading Technologies’ inventions relate to graphical user interface tools, while ChargePoint’s invention is for a vehicle charging station. The denials are not surprising following the High Court’s refusal to allow a number of other petitions dealing with Section 101 earlier this month, including Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo Collaborative Services and HP Inc. v. Berkheimer. Athena was thought to have the best chance of being granted, especially after the United States Office of the Solicitor General (SG) in December weighed in on the petition in Hikma Pharmaceuticals v. Vanda Pharmaceuticals, recommending against granting cert in that case in favor of hearing one like Athena instead.

Background Pitfalls When Drafting a Patent Application

Generally speaking, the first section of a patent specification will be the Background. The Manual of Patent Examination and Procedure (MPEP) recommends that the Background be broken up into two sections: (1) Field of Use Statement; and (2) Background of the Prior Art. These sections are recommended, not mandatory. Indeed, the Background itself is recommended and not mandatory. If you are going to have a Background it needs to be short, sweet, completely self-serving, must never actually describe the invention and it cannot ever use the term “prior art.” One big mistake inexperienced patent practitioners and researchers tasked with creating a first draft will make is they will go on page after page in patent applications about the history of the invention and the prior art. Indeed, there are some popular books on the market that recommend that this material be filed in patent applications. Including that type of information in an application that is filed is simply inappropriate. You do not see the best lawyers at the best law firms who represent the largest patent acquiring companies write patents like that, so why should you?