Skidmore-Mead Can Solve the Patent Eligibility Dilemma
Judge Kimberly Moore, in a comprehensive and insightful opinion dissenting from the denial of the petition for rehearing en banc in Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs., 927 F.3d 1333 (2019), emphasized that the lack of clarity in Section 101 jurisprudence is one of the most critical issues in patent law. Sensing no interest by her colleagues in crafting an opinion with sufficient common denominators to provide instructions to trial judges on how to navigate the cross-currents created by Federal Circuit decisions post-Mayo/Alice, Judge Moore advised litigants: “Your only hope lies with the Supreme Court or Congress.” Id. at 1363. Not now. Several months after Athena, the USPTO took the initiative to issue a guidance document “October 2019 Update: Subject Matter Eligibility,” in response to requests by numerous stakeholders for more clarity and predictability. Consequently, in light of well-established Supreme Court precedent in administrative law, there is every reason for the Federal Circuit to now adopt the analysis of these Guidelines in future Section 101 cases.