Posts Tagged: "patentable subject matter"

What to Know About the 2019 European Patent Office Guidelines for Examination

The European Patent Office (EPO) recently published its Guidelines for Examination 2019, which came into force on November 1. Compared to previous years, the volume of changes is much smaller, and this witnesses the effort by the EPO in past years to arrive at a more stable text of the Guidelines, particularly concerning the software patentability sections. Yet some changes have been made to software patentability guidelines as well as to other important sections, such as the numerical ranges and clarity matters. Continuing the trend of past years, the Guidelines continue to be enriched with helpful examples.

The Athena Amici Weigh In: Knowles/Addy Brief Dissects Five Critical Inconsistencies in Eligibility Law

On November 1, Meredith Addy of AddyHart P.C. and I submitted an Amici Curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Freenome Holdings and New Cures for Cancers in support of the Petition for Certiorari in Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo Collaborative Services. If the Supreme Court does not take this case, it is unlikely to reconsider its decisions on Section 101 of the U.S. patent law. This may be our last gasp judicial effort. The Supreme Court takes cases raising inconsistencies in the law or a circuit split. We knew parties/amici would focus on the Federal Circuit’s “internal circuit split,” so we took a different approach and urged the Court to resolve five critical inconsistencies in the law, summarized below.

Panelists Warn Senate IP Subcommittee Against Drastic Measures on Patent Quality

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, headed by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), yesterday heard from five witnesses on ways to improve patent quality at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Suggestions ranged from fixing patent eligibility jurisprudence to strengthening efforts on international work sharing, increasing patent application fees, and allotting more time for the examination process. The majority of panelists warned against the dangers of using patent quality as a means to simply block broad swaths of patents that particular industries or entities don’t like, and emphasized that clarifying U.S. patent law would likely go a long way to curbing invalidation rates.

Practical Tips for Drafting Patent Applications After American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. v. Neapco Holdings

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided on October 3 to affirm the ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Delaware that the asserted claims of U.S. patent number 7,774,911 are directed to patent ineligible subject matter under Section101. Much has been written about the majority and dissenting opinions. Here, we concentrate on what the patent practitioner can do when drafting a patent application in light of the case. Whether one personally agrees or disagrees with the court ruling, and there are interesting comments in the dissent about both claim limitations and legal principles, the lessons from the court ruling are clear.

Trading Technologies, ChargePoint Ask High Court for Help with Federal Circuit’s Conflicted Approach to Patent Eligibility

Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT) has filed a second petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to review a Federal Circuit holding that computer-implemented inventions that do not improve the basic functions of the computer itself are directed to abstract ideas and therefore patent ineligible. The present petition relates to U.S. Patent Nos. 7,685,055 (the “’055 patent”); 7,693,768 (the “’768 patent”); and 7,725,382 (the “’382 patent”). The petition TT filed in September relates to Patent Nos. 7,533,056, 7,212,999, and 7,904,374. The patents are all from the same family as three other patents found patent eligible by the CAFC in 2017. The latest petition argues that the Federal Circuit “simply declined to address conflicting Federal Circuit authority involving the same patent family or the line of other Federal Circuit decisions adopting and applying that authority’s reasoning,” and, therefore, clarification is needed from the High Court. The company’s argument may also get a boost from another petition filed recently appealing the controversial decision in ChargePoint v. Semaconnect, in which the Federal Circuit held that a vehicle charging station was not patent eligible.

To Truly Help the USPTO, Congress Must First Stabilize Patent Law

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is holding a hearing on October 30 to discuss the quality of patents issued by the USPTO. This hearing should be a great opportunity to discuss the current and future challenges facing the USPTO, including modernizing the software tools used by examiners. Unfortunately, the hearing title (“Promoting the Useful Arts: How can Congress prevent the issuance of poor quality patents?”) begins with the premise that there are poor quality patents and perpetuates the unsubstantiated position that past litigation abuse was due to patent quality. Perhaps a better start would have been to call the hearing “Promoting the Useful Arts: How can Congress help the USPTO improve patent examination?”

Patent Eligibility of Diagnostic Tools: Utility as the Key to Unlocking Section 101

A petition for certiorari was filed on October 1 in the case of Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo Collaborative Services asking the question: “Whether a new and specific method of diagnosing a medical condition is patent-eligible subject matter, where the method detects a molecule never previously linked to the condition using novel man-made molecules and a series of specific chemical steps never previously performed.” The petitioners hinge their argument throughout the brief on the novel beneficial utility of their claimed method…. However, benefit has not always carried the day in recent eligibility analyses….. Patent eligibility, considered to be the most important question facing the patent system, poses insidious problems under current jurisprudence to some of the most beneficial cutting-edge technology available today. What is most curious is that this problem apparently can be solved simply by reaching back to the foundations of modern patent law and the underlying requirement that inventions be “useful,” a term that has been baked into the statutory provisions since the first patent act.

What Every Patent Attorney Should Teach Their Entrepreneur-Inventor Clients About the Patent Process

Navigating the patent process can often be challenging and filled with subtleties and nuances for the entrepreneur-inventor, especially for first-time filers. Having a trusted patent attorney who can not only help guide you through the process, but help inventors learn about it is truly invaluable to new entrepreneur-inventors. However, for many inventors, understanding what patent attorneys do and why they do it does not always come as second nature. Over the course of my career as both an inventor and entrepreneur, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many excellent patent attorneys on my companies’ patent filings. The best attorneys I’ve worked with have played an integral role in educating me and my colleagues on the patenting process, what makes a good specification and claim and how infringement lawsuits work should we ever pursue them. I’ve also learned that inventors and patent attorneys often have different visions for what the final patent will look like. As someone who’s been through the process a few times now, here are the four things patent attorneys taught me that I think would be useful to entrepreneur-inventor clients.

Civil Debate is a Fair Request, But False Narratives are Harming U.S. Innovation

Yesterday, we published a response from Daniel Takash, the Regulatory Policy Fellow at the Niskanen Center’s Captured Economy Project, asking for a more civil IP debate. The response was itself responding to Lydia Malone’s critical view of the R Street panel on Capitol Hill that she attended, and which she felt took the position that patents are too strong. I, too, wrote an article in advance of the R Street presentation where I was highly critical of the motivations of R Street. Mr. Takash suggests “[w]e should all do our best to live by Antonin Scalia’s maxim to ‘attack arguments, not people.’” That is perfectly reasonable. It is, however, also perfectly reasonable to question the motivations of those who are making claims that are unquestionably false. To be quite direct about it, the R Street supposition that patents are too strong is pure fantasy of the first order. Anyone with even fleeting familiarity with the subject matter who has at all been paying attention to the demise of the U.S. patent system over the last 12+ years knows that U.S. patents are not too strong. U.S. patents are too weak. So weak that for the first time in a decade the number of U.S. patent applications has decreased while patent applications worldwide surged forward by more than 5% during 2018. Moreover, U.S. applicants are not foregoing patent protection, they just aren’t filing as much in the United States. Indeed, U.S. applicants continue to be the hungriest for patents worldwide.

Other Barks & Bites, Friday, October 18: USPTO Updates Subject Matter Eligibility Guidelines, China Receives Half of 2018 Global Patent Filings, US Inventor to Host Rally

This week in Other Barks & Bites: US Inventor will host an inventor rally during AIPLA’s Annual Meeting to protest the PTAB; the Federal Circuit vacates dismissal of infringement case against Sirius XM; the USPTO updates subject matter patent eligibility guidelines, changes TEAS access, and seeks participants for a beta release of the Patent Center; WIPO reports that China received half of all patent application filings in 2018 while the United States saw its first patent filing decline in a decade; Google files a supplemental brief at the Supreme Court in its case against Oracle; Katy Perry files a motion to overturn the “Dark Horse” copyright verdict against her; the FCC approves the merger between mobile wireless firms T-Mobile and Sprint; and U.S. Customs proposes rulemaking to improve its detention of copyright-violating goods imported at the U.S. border.

Federal Circuit Decision Delays Generic Osteoarthritis Drug

On October 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a decision in HZNP Medicines LLC v. Actavis Laboratories UT, Inc. affirming the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey’s findings of invalidity and noninfringement of certain claims of some of the asserted HZNP (Horizon) patents, as well as the district court’s finding of nonobviousness of one claim of another Horizon patent. The finding of nonobviousness means that Actavis, owned by generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals, is enjoined from engaging in the commercial use, offer for sale, or sale of its product covered in its Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) until the expiration of U.S. Patent No. 9,066,913 (the ‘913 patent) in 2027.

It Is Time for Federal Circuit Judges of Good Conscience to Call Out Their Colleagues

Recently, IPWatchdog published an excellent article by Wen Xie outlining the legal inconsistencies of the Chamberlain v. Techtronic Industries opinion, penned by Judge Chen. Unfortunately, describing the latest inconsistencies in the garbage pile of contradictions that is the Federal Circuit’s Alice/Mayo doctrine provides no surprise to anyone. The Alice/Mayo decisions issued by the CAFC are self-contradictory and cannot be reconciled with the Constitution, 35 U.S.C. §§ 102, 103, and 112, and at least a dozen Supreme Court cases. Indeed, the only surprises from the Federal Circuit these days come in the form of the odd holding for patent eligibility. However, Wen Xie’s article did cause me to realize that I’d overlooked Judge Chen’s distortions of fact. “Distortions,” however, is too mild a term for the outrageous misrepresentations made in Chamberlain.

Other Barks & Bites, October 5: USPTO Rulemaking Updates, Federal Circuit Weighs in on 101, and DOJ Tells SCOTUS to Deny Google Appeal

This past week in Other Barks & Bites: the USPTO delays the effective date for mandating electronic trademark application submissions and issues a proposed rulemaking on Patent Term Adjustments in light of Supernus; UKIPO report shows that women inventors represent only 12.7 percent of inventors worldwide; trademark dispute leads street artist Banksy to open a retail store; the Federal Circuit upholds the invalidation of method of manufacture claims as being directed to a natural law over a dissent from Judge Moore; the screenwriter of The Terminator files a copyright termination notice; Tesla stock drops after missing analyst expectations on car sales; Seinfeld beats copyright case over Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee; and the Department of Justice tells the Supreme Court not to review Google’s appeal over the ability to copyright Java code.

CAFC Rejects Method for Manufacturing Propshafts Under 101; Judge Moore Calls Majority Analysis ‘Validity Goulash’

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential opinion on October 3 involving a patent infringement suit brought by American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. (AAM) against Neapco Drivelines LLC (Neapco) in 2015. The suit involved alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,774,911 (the ‘911 patent). The opinion, authored by Judge Dyk, affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware’s finding that the asserted claims are ineligible under Section 101. Judge Moore dissented, saying that “the majority’s decision expands § 101 well beyond its statutory gate-keeping function and the role of this appellate court well beyond its authority.” The ‘911 patent teaches a method for manufacturing driveline propeller shafts that are designed to attenuate vibrations transmitted through a shaft assembly.After a thorough analysis of the first prong of the Alice and Mayo two-step process, the CAFC turned to the second prong and found that no inventive concept existed that could transform the claims into patent eligible subject matter. Judge Kimberly Moore filed a scathing dissent in which she said the majority opinion “deeply trouble[s]” her and that the Court’s opinion conflates Section 101 with Section 112.

Athena Implores Supreme Court to Heed Federal Circuit’s ‘Unprecedented Cry for Help’

As expected, Athena Diagnostics last night filed its petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to fix the United States’ patent eligibility law problem. Adam Gahtan and Eric Majchrzak of Fenwick & West and Seth Waxman, Thomas Saunders, Joshua Koppel and Claire Chung of WilmerHale filed the petition for Athena. The specific question Athena is presenting is: “Whether a new and specific method of diagnosing a medical condition is patent-eligible subject matter, where the method detects a molecule never previously linked to the condition using novel man-made molecules and a series of specific chemical steps never previously performed.” Athena urged the Court to take the case considering the Federal Circuit’s eight separate opinions in which the court divided 7-5 on denying en banc review—evidence of “much-needed guidance on the proper application of the judicially-created exceptions to Section 101 of the Patent Act.”