Posts Tagged: "Section 101 Guidance"

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.  

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.

A House Divided: Is the PTAB Ignoring the USPTO’s Section 101 Guidance?

The year 2019 was supposed to be when subject matter eligibility examination at the USPTO got better. First, the USPTO published Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance in January 2019 meant to address “how to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s [Alice] framework for evaluating eligibility [under Section 101].” 84 Fed. Reg. 50 (Jan. 7, 2019) (“PEG”). Then, the USPTO doubled down with the October 2019 Subject Matter Eligibility update (“October Update”). In contemporary parlance, you might say that 2019 was supposed to be the year that the USPTO flattened the Section 101 rejection curve. There is promising evidence that the 2019 Guidance has reduced Section 101 rejections during prosecution before USPTO examiners. See Update on 101 Rejections at the USPTO: Prospects for Computer-Related Applications Continue to Improve Post-Guidance. Unfortunately, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) does not seem to have received the memo. While the PTAB routinely refers to the 2019 Guidance in decisions on Section 101 rejections, there is at least one critical requirement of the 2019 Guidance that the PTAB appears to ignore—the requirement that an examiner must show every claim, individually, is ineligible.

Examining Confusion Between the Chamberlain and Berkheimer Decisions at the Federal Circuit

If you’re reading this blog, then you likely are an avid follower of the Section 101 saga. The most recent episode in this saga, Chamberlain v. Techtronic at the Federal Circuit, is about so much more than a garage door operator being an abstract idea. It’s about the fact that we still have no clue what’s supposed to happen in the 2A and 2B steps of the judicially-created Alice/Mayo test. The Chamberlain panel applied the Alice/Mayo test completely backwards compared to what the Berkheimer panel said. First, the question of improvement was assessed in Chamberlain’s “Step One” (or 2A). Not only that, the panel then immediately went on to find that “(t)he specification admits that the act of transmitting data wirelessly is ‘well understood in the art,’ and no other changes to the generically claimed movable barrier operator are recited in the asserted claims or described in the specification.” 

How the Owner of ‘Findmyphone’ Patents Overcame a 101 Objection Under the New USPTO Guidance

I hold nine U.S. computer security device recovery and communication patents relating to Findmyphone technology, which helps owners display return or recovery information before or with the lock screen to help get their smartphone, tablet, computer or laptop back. In February, I was notified that my latest U.S. application overcame a 35 USC 101 objection following an amendment that explicitly referenced Director Andrei Iancu’s Section 101 Guidance. My story should provide some hope that the guidance can provide a clearer path for inventors on how to adjust their claims to meet the USPTO’s new high standards to achieve success and satisfy the requirements that Iancu is looking for to ensure stronger U.S. software patents.

A Plea to All IP Stakeholders: Support Director Iancu’s Efforts to Restore the Value of U.S. Patents

USPTO Director Andrei Iancu’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance promises to virtually eliminate the greatest patent problem of our time. If implemented properly by the examiners and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges, the guidance could solve the 101 mayhem and the incredible harm that it has done to inventors of computer implemented inventions. The guidance will also increase the value of patents, since strategic infringers will not be able to use the PTAB as the killing ground for patents using subject matter eligibility. Director Iancu needs us to support him with positive public comments as justification for his guidance and, very importantly, to suggest improvements to his guidance for its final/future version(s) and its implementation. Please send the following text with any of your edits to by the March 8, 2019 deadline.

IBM Calls for an End to the ‘Legal Fiction’ of Current 101 Law

This marks the final installment in my four-part interview with IBM’s Vice President and Assistant General Counsel Mark Ringes and Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter. I found our conversation fascinating and want to thank them both again for their time and insight. Below, we conclude with an in-depth discussion on how the U.S. patent system is affecting startups and the state of enforceability following Director Iancu’s Section 101 Guidance.

Director Iancu Should Personally Conduct Video Training Explaining Section 101 Guidance

During the interview with Technology Center Director Tariq Hafiz we discussed whether it is realistic to expect patent examiners to perform a complete Section 101 analysis, including comparing a claimed invention to concepts that have been found patentable and not patentable under Section 101 in Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decisions. Unfortunately, this has often involved examiners pigeonholing claims at issue into completely unrelated court decisions that found claims to be directed to an abstract idea. In the new guidance, the USPTO plainly states that the approach of examiners comparing claims to a growing number of court decisions involving Section 101 has “become impractical.”

Is 2019 the Year Clarity Returns to Section 101? Judge Paul Michel Is Hopeful

For almost ten years, U.S. patent law has experienced extraordinary confusion and uncertainty about what types of inventions and discoveries are patent eligible. The U.S. system changed from offering strong protection for novel and nonobvious inventions to questioning whether groundbreaking technologies are even the type the Founders thought would promote the progress of the “Useful Arts.” But recent developments, including the USPTO’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (Section 101 Guidance), suggest that winds of change may clear the fog and bring back some clarity to U.S. patent law.