Posts Tagged: "patentable subject matter"

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.  

The Day One Project Examined: USPTO Transition Proposals Advocate Questionable PTAB, Section 101 Policies

Recently, the Day One Project, an initiative of the Federation of American Scientists, released a transition document drafted by a collection of veteran policymakers discussing a range of policy ideas to be implemented at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) starting from the earliest days of the Biden Administration. The ideas advocated by the Day One Project focus on a mix of policies related to diversity, international IP systems, patent quality, agency budgeting and governance and ways that the USPTO can contribute to broader administrative policy initiatives. While there are many sound policy positions advocated by the Day One Project, patent owners may want to be aware of the document’s stance on the “public benefit of PTAB review of a patent” as well as the agency’s role in developing policy on patentable subject matter reform. Interestingly, the policy document indicates that there is broad consensus for continuing policies from the Trump Administration relating to China’s influence on the world of intellectual property.

Alice in 2020: Slashing Software Patents and Searching for Functional Language at the Federal Circuit (Part II)

In Part I of this article, I explained that the CAFC invalidated almost every software patent on appeal for eligibility in 2020 and recapped the first 13 such cases of the year. Despite the many software eligibility cases decided last year, there is still some uncertainty about what passes muster under the Alice two-step framework. Below is a recap of the remaining 14 cases considered by the CAFC in 2020 with respect to software patent eligibility.

The Patent System is ‘Desperate’: American Axle Implores High Court to Take Up Eligibility Fight

American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on December 28, 2020, asking it to review the Federal Circuit’s July 31, 2020 modified judgment and October 2019 panel opinion in a closely-watched Section 101 patent eligibility case involving driveshaft automotive technology. The Federal Circuit has been sharply divided by the issues presented, leading Judge Moore to refer to the original panel’s analysis as “validity goulash” and to state that the “majority’s Nothing More test, like the great American work The Raven from which it is surely borrowing, will, as in the poem, lead to insanity.”

Illinois District Court Finds Appliance Controller Patents Ineligible under Alice/Mayo

On November 6, the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, granted a motion to dismiss an infringement suit on the grounds that the patents in suit were directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101 in Karamelion LLC v. Intermatic, Inc. The court explained that although Karamelion’s solution may be a novel application of network communication to a particular problem, “no matter how novel or groundbreaking the advance, the abstract idea cannot supply the inventive concept.”

Rently Makes Section 101 Bid to High Court

Consumer 2.0, Inc. d/b/a Rently has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision holding its patent claims ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The claims are directed to “the use of lockboxes able to recognize time-limited codes and coordination of those codes with software to facilitate secure automated entry.” Rently’s petition was filed just as the High Court kicked off its new term by denying certiorari yesterday in Chamberlain v. Techtronic, which also sought review of a Section 101 eligibility decision.

New Enablement-Like Requirements for 101 Eligibility: AAM v. Neapco Takes the Case Law Out of Context, and Too Far – Part I

With its recent opinion in AAM, Inc. v. Neapco Holdings, LLC, No. 18-1763 (Fed. Cir. July 31, 2020), and a 6-6 stalemate by the court’s active judges on whether to take the case en banc, the Federal Circuit has now adopted—under the rubric of 35 U.S.C. §101—a formalized set of enablement-like requirements for patent claims. For a simple “threshold” eligibility test, section 101 has grown remarkably complex. Indeed, since the Supreme Court’s 2012 Mayo and 2014 Alice decisions re-cast patent eligibility into a “two-step framework,” the Section 101 test adjudges not just subject-matter eligibility and the three “limited” exceptions thereto, but also patentability or “inventive-concept” challenges predicated on comparisons to the prior art, see 35 U.S.C. §§ 102-103. And now the enablement-type requirements imposed by AAM v. Neapco.

Techtronic Dismisses Chamberlain Petition to SCOTUS as ‘Nothing Important’

On August 7, Techtronic Industries filed a brief in opposition to The Chamberlain Group’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asking for review of “whether the Federal Circuit improperly expanded § 101’s narrow implicit exceptions by failing to properly assess Chamberlain’s claims ‘as a whole.’” Techtronic’s brief asks the Court to deny the petition, and presents the following two questions in the case it is granted: “1) Whether the Federal Circuit, on the particular facts of this case, erred in analyzing the claims as a whole and 2) Whether Chamberlain forfeited and is estopped from making its current arguments about the scope and preemptive effect of its claims in view of its inconsistent arguments below.”