Posts Tagged: "patentable subject matter"

Patent Office Releases Interim Bilski Guidelines

This morning the United States Patent and Trademark Office published Interim Guidance for Determining Subject Matter Eligibility for Process Claims in View of Bilski v. Kappos. The Interim Bilski Guidance is effective July 27, 2010, and applies to all applications filed before, on or after the effective date. Most noteworthy is that the Patent Office is encouraging examiners to issue 101 rejection in only “extreme cases” and allow patentability to be decided by sections 102, 103 and 112.

Diagnostic Testing in the Wake of Bilski v. Kappos

Now that the Supreme Court has vacated and remanded both the Classen and Prometheus decisions, the Federal Circuit must revisit these issues. For Prometheus, the decision may be simpler, because the claims were already held to meet the machine-or-transformation test. Although the Supreme Court’s Bilski decision held that the M-or-T test was not the only test by which patent-eligibility can be determined, the Supreme Court seemed to have agreement from all nine Justices that the machine-or-transformation test was still a useful tool and valid option. See, e.g., Bilski, slip. op. at 2 of J. Breyer’s concurrence. Although a claim that does not meet the M-or-T test may still be patent-eligible under other theories, one can presume that the M-or-T test is still a “safe harbor” for claims that meet its provisions. The Federal Circuit’s re-visitation of Prometheus will be the first opportunity for this presumption to be tested.

Dissecting Bilski: The Meaning of the Supreme Patent Decision

Who knows what goes through the minds of anyone, let alone a cloistered Justice of the United States Supreme Court. What we do know, however, is that 5 Justices, namely Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Scalia all agreed that business methods are patentable subject matter. All 9 Justices agreed that the Federal Circuit misread previous Supreme Court decisions when they mandated that the machine or transformation test be the only test for determining whether a process is patentable subject matter. All 9 Justices agreed that the Bilski application was properly rejected, with the majority agreeing that it was properly rejected because it was an abstract idea, and the concurring minority simply wanting to say that business methods are not patent eligible unless tied to an otherwise patentable invention (see Stevens footnote 40).

Supremes Decide Bilski: Machine or Transformation Not the Only Test, Bilski Not Patentable

The Supreme Court held that the machine-or-transformation test is not the sole test for patent eligibility under §101, and that the Federal Circuit erred when it ruled that it was the singular test to determine whether an invention is patentable subject matter. Delivering the opinion for the Court was Justice Kennedy. There were no dissents, only concurring opinions, which is in and of itself a little surprising. In any event, Kennedy explained that the Federal Circuit decision ignored well established rules of statutory interpretation, and further explained that there is no ordinary, contemporary common meaning of the word “process” that would require it to be tied to a machine or the transformation of an article. Nevertheless, the machine or transformation test may be useful as an investigative tool, but it cannot be the sole test.

June 16, 2010: 30th Anniversary of Diamond v. Chakrabarty

There is some irony that on the day we mark the 30th anniversary of the decision that launched the modern biotechnology industry we are still awaiting a decision on a patentable subject matter case — Bilski v. Kappos. Bilski has the potential to not only kill business methods, but also the software industry, the biotechnology industry and much of the medical innovation we see growing by leaps and bounds. So for today I toast the Supreme Court decision that launched the biotech industry, created millions of jobs and has lead to innumerable cures and treatments. I just hope that tomorrow (or whenever the Supreme Court issues its Bilski decision) it is not all for naught.

Groundhogs Day: Speculating on No Bilski Decision this Term

Last week when I wrote Broken Record, No Bilski for You Today, which was a fun combination of Soup Nazi meets LPs, I dangled the thought that perhaps the Supreme Court would not decide Bilski this term and might hold the case over. I said I refused to speculate at this point, but some of those commenting on that article asked me to engage in the speculation, as did others via e-mail and some that I have encountered in the industry since then. I still think it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will hold Bilski over, just because it is an extraordinarily rare occurrence, but with only two more decision days this term (i.e., Monday June 21 and Monday June 28), it seems appropriate to at least ponder the rare occurrence of the Supreme Court holding a case over, which the Court did in Marbury v. Madison and Brown v. Board of Education.

The Wait Continues: Another Day Without a Bilski Decision

After 6 months and 15 days we still wait for a decision in Bilski v. Kappos, perhaps the most anticipated Supreme Court patent decision of all time. So, once again, it seems as if the patent story of the day will be the one that never materialized. The difficulty the Supreme Court is facing is in all likelihood this: how do they kill the Bilski patent application as being unpatentable subject matter without also killing the US economy. A decision that is too broad not only could put an end to the pure business methods akin to the Bilski “invention,” but could also put an end to the patentability of software, business methods and medical innovations. Thus, it is hardly an overstatement to observe that the Bilski case, if decided improperly, could destroy an already fragile US economy and set back medical research decades.

JCVI Creates World’s First Genetically Engineered Self-Replicating Synthetic Bacterial

You just couldn’t make this stuff up. A team of humans creates genetically altered and a self-replicating synthetic cell using a computer. I suspect that computer was running some pretty powerful and sophisticated software. So the anti-patent crowd should be sufficiently whipped into a frenzy over this story top to bottom. It hits all the hot button issues, life, genetics, software, ethics and it rolls them all into one. But while we might relish the anguish of those in the anti-patent community, this type of scientific advance should not be taken lightly because it has the potential to fire up those with an anti-patent agenda and could also fire up religious groups as well. The coming together of such strange bedfellows would result in an alliance with enormous political power. So innovators need to pay attention and be vigilant.

Another Day Without Bilski Decision, What Does it Mean?

Today the United States Supreme Court issued four decisions, and none of them were Bilski v. Kappos. If you look back at the lag time between oral argument and decision over the last 17 Supreme Court patent decisions the average is 2.82 months. KSR was 5.07 months and as of today Bilski is 6.29 months. Does this mean Bilski will be more earth shattering than KSR, which is the biggest patent decision of at least the last generation?

Patent Reality Check: The Hypocrisy of Duke University on Patents

There are few things in this world that irritate me more than hypocrisy. Did you know that since 1976 Duke University has had 716 issued US patents, 266 of which in some way, shape or form relate to genetics and 156 of which relate in some way, shape or form relate to both genetics AND cancer. While Duke University throws Myriad Genetics under the bus over its patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes tied to breast and ovarian cancer, Duke has its own patent on identification and sequencing of the BRCA2 cancer susceptibility gene. How convenient!

NEWSFLASH: Duke Researchers Say Patents Block Competition

Last week, on Thursday, April 15, 2010, while many individuals were scrambling at the last minute to file income tax returns in the US, Duke University released a study that, not surprisingly, says patents block competition. WOW! Thank you so much for clearing that up Duke! What would we have ever done without the learned elite at Duke University telling us that patents block competition. Seriously… what was your first clue? For goodness sakes I hope you didn’t take much time or energy coming to that conclusion, given that is exactly what patents are supposed to do. You see, they provide exclusive rights, which means the owner of the right has the ability to exclude. So let’s all breath a sigh of relief that the money spent on an academic study actually reached a conclusion that is true and accurate. Now, if the conclusions drawn from the study were only as commonsensical as the discovery of patents conveying exclusive rights.

Debunking the Software Patent “Pen and Paper Myth”

The pen and paper myth goes like this: software should not be patentable because anything that can be done with pen and paper is not an invention and exclusive rights should not be given to any one person or entity. Presumably the thought process here is that if you patent software you would prevent someone from engaging in the method using pen and paper. Of course, that is not true, but why would a little thing like reality get in the way of making an otherwise absurd and provably incorrect statement? Such provably wrong statements are rampant in the patent world today, particularly in light of what appears to be an all out media assault on technology and innovation that would make the persecutors of Galileo proud.

When Will the Supreme Court Decide Bilski?

Months ago I predicted that the Supreme Court would issue the decision on the day that is least convenient for me. That is what always seems to be the case with big news items. They seem to happen when I am away from my computer and attending to other matters, traveling or teaching. Based on the belief that the decision will issue on either April 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 or 28, my prediction is April 21, 2010. That would be the most awful day for me because of my calendar of events on April 21 and 22. So if you are going to start up an office pool on when Bilski will issue I would beg, borrow and plead for April 21.

Deciding Bilski on Patentable Subject Matter is Just Plain Wrong

Unfortunately, those who oppose software patents frequently, if not always, want to turn the patentability requirements as they apply to software and business methods into a single step inquiry. They want it all to ride on patentable subject matter, which is a horrible mistake. The majority of the Federal Circuit got it completely wrong in Bilski, and other notable recent decisions. Patentable subject matter is a threshold inquiry and should not be used to weed out an entire class of innovation simply because bad patents could and will issue if the other patentability requirements are not adequately applied. That is taking the “easy” way out and is simply wrong.

Court Stays Ruling Pending Supreme Decision in Bilski

On January 21, 2010, the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued a ruling in Big Baboon, Inc. v. Dell, Inc. et al, staying further consideration on the motion for summary judgment for invalidity until such time that the United States Supreme Court issues its much anticipated decision in Bilski v. Kappos. This is exactly what I have been suggesting (see Offering Help), and it has amazed me that other district courts and the United States Patent Office are plowing ahead and making Bilski rulings.