The Federal Circuit is Shirking Its Constitutional Duty to Provide Certainty for Critical Innovation
Here we go again! Another patent whose claims have been invalidated at the Federal Circuit—predictably, another medical diagnostic patent. Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo Collaborative (Fed. Cir. Feb. 6, 2019). This is getting old, tired and fundamentally ridiculous. The statute, which is all of one-sentence long, specifically lists discoveries as patent eligible. So why are discoveries being declared patent ineligible? To the extent these decisions are mandated by the Supreme Court, they directly contradict the easy to understand and very direct language of the statute. The Federal Circuit is wrong, period. Perhaps they are so close to these cases and trying so hard to do what they think is right that they have lost perspective, but these rulings are fundamentally saying that discoveries are not patent eligible. We are told repeatedly that they are mandated by Supreme Court precedent. Obviously, that cannot be correct. The statute says: “Whoever invents or discovers… may obtain a patent…” Clearly, Congress wants discoveries to be patented, and in our system of governance, Congress has supremacy over the Supreme Court with respect to setting the law unless the law is unconstitutional. 35 U.S.C. 101 has never been declared unconstitutional, so discoveries must be patent eligible, period. It is time to face the facts—the Supreme Court has considered only bad cases, with bad facts, where there was really no innovation presented in the claims, or even in the patent application as a whole. These decisions have absolutely no meaning or proper application with respect to any inventions, let alone inventions of monumental complexity such as true artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, or new medical diagnostics that allow risk-free testing of common ailments, where previously existing tests required potentially catastrophic risk.