Posts Tagged: "patentable subject matter"

Comments on USPTO Patent Eligibility Study Reveal Stark Contrast in Viewpoints of Some U.S. Patent Stakeholders

Friday, October 15, marked the final day of the public comment period for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s patent eligibility jurisprudence study. By the close of the comment period, 43 public comments were submitted from entities with very different viewpoints on the U.S. patent system. Public comments will be used to determine how the current state of Section 101 patent eligibility case law is impacting investment in U.S. innovation. Many comments raised dire concerns about the uncertain nature of Section 101 eligibility and how that uncertainty has been impacting R&D activities across the nation.

It’s All in the Hardware: Overcoming 101 Rejections in Computer Networking Technology Classes

Technologies such as computer networking, which, unlike software inventions, typically incorporate at least some hardware elements, may be less vulnerable to rejection under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. However, responding to these rejections when they are issued still requires some finesse. In these cases, rejections usually revolve around whether the hardware included in the claims serves as an improvement over existing hardware or is merely used as a tool for a mental process or other abstract idea. If the examiner concludes that the networking hardware merely serves as a tool, the claims usually fail the Alice/Mayo test. However, if you can show that the networking hardware either presents novel features or is improved by the invention to become a more effective tool, you may overcome the rejection.

Federal Circuit Affirms 101 Invalidation of Secure Transaction System Patents in Victory for Apple and Visa

On Thursday, August 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc. in which the appellate court affirmed the District of Delaware’s grant of a motion to dismiss Universal Secure Registry’s (USR) patent infringement allegations. In a decision that will be discouraging to some, though unsurprising, the Federal Circuit okayed the district court’s invalidation of all asserted claims from USR’s four patents-in-suit, finding that each patent was properly gunned down after being placed on the firing line of Section 101 subject matter ineligibility. The opinion was authored by Judge Stoll.

Yu v. Apple Settles It: The CAFC is Suffering from a Prolonged Version of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a medical condition for which there is no known treatment. It causes a disturbance of perception and has a serious impact on the life of those afflicted, and I suspect on those who surround those afflicted. Of course, those in the patent community who work on software implemented innovations know all of this too well. Think this is a joke? Sadly, no. Alice in Wonderland syndrome is a real thing.

High Court is Poised to Un-Muddy the Section 101 Waters Nearly Seven Years After Alice

Could the United States Supreme Court once again weigh in on Section 101 subject-matter eligibility? With the Court having asked for the views of the Solicitor General yesterday, it seems increasingly likely. Late in 2020, patentee American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. (American Axle) petitioned the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari, arguing that the Federal Circuit is “at a loss as to how to uniformly apply § 101.” Pet. for Writ of Certiorari at 3 (Dec. 28, 2020). Organizations such as the New York Intellectual Property Law Association, the New York City Bar Association, and the Chicago Patent Attorneys organization have all submitted amicus briefs supporting American Axle’s ask. On March 1, former USPTO Director David Kappos, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel, and Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina also jointly filed an amicus brief, arguing that the “disparate and inconsistent application” of the current Section 101 jurisprudence has led to “an unpredictable and unstable” patent system. Br. in Support of Am. Axle’s Pet. for Writ of Certiorari at 5 (Mar. 12, 2021).

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.

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.”

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.”

How to Safeguard AI Technology: Patents versus Trade Secrets

A common refrain is that an invention is only as valuable as the patent that protects it. But what happens when you cannot secure the patent? This is a frequent hurdle for inventors seeking to patent products utilizing artificial intelligence (AI). While still in its infancy, at least compared to the lofty expectations of technology enthusiasts, AI has proven integral to driving innovation, but it has also proven equally vexing to fit into the intellectual property legal regime.

CAFC Affirms Section 112 Invalidation/ Non-Infringement in Synchronoss v. Dropbox Dispute

On February 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a district court’s conclusion of invalidity under Section 112 and/or non-infringement in Synchronoss v. Dropbox. Synchronoss had appealed the district court’s decision that the asserted claims, which were “drawn to technology for synchronizing data across multiple devices” are either invalid under 35 U.S.C. Section 112 for indefiniteness, or not infringed.” Meanwhile, Dropbox cross-appealed, arguing that the claims are patent ineligible subject matter under Section 101. The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,671,757; 6,757,696; and 7,587,446.

USIJ to Supremes: Set Boundaries on 101 Jurisprudence to Save U.S. Innovation

The Alliance of U.S. Startups & Inventors for Jobs has filed an amicus brief supporting American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc.’s petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that many feel that “the U.S. patent system appears to be on life support”. The brief generally argues: The panel majority decision fails to comply with eligibility precedents established by the Court and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 56 (Rule 56); and Investments in technology startups in American has been declining for more than a decade.

Federal Circuit Reiterates It Will Not Be Bound by USPTO Eligibility Guidance

Earlier today, in cxLoyalty, Inc. v. Maritz Holdings, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed-in-part, reversed-in-part and dismissed-in-part a decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in which the CAFC doubled down on its past contention that the USPTO’s Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance is not binding on the court’s analysis. The panel included Chief Judge Prost and Judges Lourie and Hughes. The opinion was authored by Prost.