Conflicting Precedent for the Supreme Court in American Axle
The U.S. Department of Justice is encouraging the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to American Axle to clarify U.S. patent eligibility law. Thus, it appears that the chances are better than ever for this issue to get some much-needed attention…. After more than one year of waiting, the Justice Department filed their amicus brief on May 24, 2022. The Solicitor unequivocally stated that the Federal Circuit’s holding that the ‘911 claims are patent ineligible “is incorrect,” and that the appellate decision reflects “substantial uncertainty about the proper application of Section 101.” The Solicitor also noted that the Alice two-part test for patent eligibility enunciated by the Supreme Court in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. 208 (2014), has produced confusion in lower courts, and has “fractured” the Federal Circuit. (See Solicitor’s brief at page 19). The Solicitor also acknowledged the admitted difficulty for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), inventors, businesses, and other patent stakeholders, in applying the Supreme Court’s precedents consistently with regard to patent eligibility under Section 101. The Solicitor urged that the Section 101 inquiry be guided by historical practice and judicial precedent. But Supreme Court precedent appears to be irreconcilable.