Posts Tagged: "software patent"

Invest Pic v. SAP America, Inc. Amicus Brief Takes on CAFC’s ‘Physical Realm’ Test

Among the seven amicus curiae briefs filed Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court in InvestPic, LLC, v. SAP America, Inc., Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund’s brief argues that the case demands a hearing because the Federal Circuit has added yet another extra-statutory test to the already distorted patentability jurisprudence. In a decision of May 15, 2018 authored by Judge Taranto, the Federal Circuit found the patent claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,349,291 invalid because they were directed to an abstract idea and lacked an inventive concept necessary to save the invention under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In the course of its opinion, the Federal Circuit created a “physical realm” test, which is nowhere to be found in 35 U.S. Code Section 101, having been wholly conjured by judges.

Request for Amici: Tell the Supreme Court to Clarify Section 101

On March 8, Foster Pepper filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, case number 18-1199, challenging the Federal Circuit’s emerging “physical realm” test as part of its Alice/Section 101 analysis. Amicus briefs in support of our cert petition are most welcome to assist the Court’s understanding of why it is important to grant cert and clarify the correct patent eligibility test for computer-implemented inventions. We are also seeking amicus brief writers for the many amici we have already secured. These efforts will help clear up the uncertainty innovators and patent holders face in cutting-edge fields of our modern economy and, as a result, help drive innovation forward. 

Recent Cases Show Federal Circuit Is Concerned About ‘Over Abstracting’ Rejections of Method/ Process Patents

In one of its latest opinions attempting to parse precedent on the subject matter eligibility of software, method of use, and business method patents that arguably involve application of laws of nature or recitations of well-known, conventional methods and techniques, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that a patent directed to a method for administering a naturally occurring beta amino acid to cause an increase in the concentration of a naturally occurring amino acid combination in muscle and brain tissues was subject matter eligible for patent protection (Natural Alternatives Int’l, Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC, No. 18-1295, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7647 (Fed Cir. March 15, 2019). The panel’s 2-1 majority decision conceded that the claims at issue involved laws of nature and had similarities to claims the U.S. Supreme Court had found subject matter ineligible but found that the claims possessed sufficient inventiveness beyond natural phenomenon and conventional methods to make them subject matter eligible for patent protection. Since Alice, the Federal Circuit and the federal district courts have been striving to implement and apply the Alice test to methods of use, software, and business method inventions that arguably involve applications of laws of nature and conventional methods. The challenge for the court in these cases has been to determine whether the claims sufficiently go beyond applications of laws of nature and known conventions to qualify as subject matter eligible for patent protection under Section 101. The Federal Circuit has found an inventive concept in several such cases.

How the EPO and USPTO Guidance Will Help Shape the Examination of Artificial Intelligence Inventions

It is safe to say that Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are hot topics and, as with any rapidly growing technological area on the industry side, there is also a rapidly growing number of patent applications being filed.In view of this, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued new guidance for examination for AI and ML patent applications in November 2018. Meanwhile, in January 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also issued revised guidance directed to what constitutes patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101. Although the USPTO’s revised guidance is more generally directed to software applications, at least one of the accompanying hypothetical examples (Example 39) is directed to the AI and ML space. Therefore, while there may be lingering concerns that AI and ML inventions will face extra scrutiny toward patentability due to their software-centric nature, the extra attention that the EPO and USPTO are paying toward AI and ML will likely help swing the pendulum of patentable subject matter toward a place that is in harmony with the current state of technology. The below analysis reviews the recent developments by the EPO and the USPTO to provide specific guidance on the topic of AI and ML.

Alice is Due for Reversal: Science Proves Its Reasoning Unsound

Since the 2014 Supreme Court decision in Alice v. CLS Bank International, patent claims including software have faced a much higher barrier for receiving patents than any other field of invention. This has also infected specialized software, such as artificial intelligence (AI), which is both distressing and sad. It also explains why Chinese AI start-ups are receiving more funding than U.S. AI start-ups, a fact that should be sending a shockwave through Capitol Hill. Since Alice, patent examiners have presumptively classified software claims that can be implemented on a general computer as covering nothing more than an abstract idea, which means they are ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. To overcome this rejection, applicants must show why their claimed invention is something more than just a mere abstract idea.  Ironically, what constitutes something more is itself an abstract idea, and even what is an abstract idea is itself an abstract idea. In something straight from out of the Monty Python version of patent eligibility, these key terms – something more and abstract idea – have not been defined by the Supreme Court or the Federal Circuit. As a result, most applications with software are routinely denied, which is understandable when frontline decision makers (i.e., patent examiners) are left without objective guidance. Subjectivity prevails.

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 Eligibility2019@uspto.gov by the March 8, 2019 deadline.

As Momentum For a 101 Fix Builds on Capitol Hill, A Look at the Revived Senate IP Subcommittee’s Leadership

Last week, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)—respectively, Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, which was resurrected on February 7 for the first time since 2007—met with Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) and others for their second bipartisan meeting in three months in search of a possible legislative solution to the patent eligibility crisis facing biotechnology, medical diagnostics and software related innovations. The same players met in December to begin discussing the issue, and stakeholders are now being told that they should join the conversation sooner rather than later if they want their voices to be heard. With the Senate IP Subcommittee back up and running and the seeming momentum on fixing patent eligibility law, it’s worth taking a look at the Subcommittee’s leadership and what their collective experience could mean for substantive change.

Drafting Software Patents: Lessons from Key Lighthouse Cases

Join Gene Quinn, patent attorney and the President & CEO of IPWatchdog, Inc., on Thursday, February 14, 2019, at 12pm EST for a free webinar discussion Drafting Software Patents: Lessons from Key Lighthouse Cases. Joining Gene will be John White, patent expert, lecturer and partner with Berenato & White, and Megan McLoughlin, patent attorney with LexisNexis IP.

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.

Techniques for Patenting Blockchain in Europe, the United States, China and Japan

Patentability of Blockchain is a hot topic primarily because of the tremendous expectations around this emerging, disruptive and promising technology. On December 5, 2018, the European Patent Office (EPO) held an International Conference on Patenting Blockchain at The Hague to explore this topic in detail.

Practitioners who work on patent applications or clearance advice in this field should be careful in the choice of keywords for prior art searches and should be aware of what kind of patent they are seeking: core technology (with possible risks of a pure algorithm objection), applied technology, and virtual currency claim (which is excluded in China).

IBM: Patent Troll Problem is ‘Just Noise’ Post-America Invents Act

This marks Part III of my four-part interview with IBM discussing the state of innovation and the U.S. patent system from the standpoint of a company that has obtained the most U.S. patents for 26 years in a row. Below, I continue the conversation with Mark Ringes, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for IBM, and Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel for IBM, picking up on the topics of prior art and patent trolls, moving on to a comparison of the U.S. patent system with the rapidly evolving systems of China and Europe and, finally, examining how companies are refining patent prosecution practices to address the Section 101 chaos.

Software Patent Drafting Lessons from the Key Lighthouse Cases

Obtaining a U.S. software patent is still harder than it was five years ago, but studying these “lighthouse” cases can improve one’s chances of success. While the Federal Circuit’s decision in Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018) and the USPTO’s guidance to patent examiners on the Berkheimer decision have recently improved the landscape for software patents, the following cases contain critical lessons for drafters that can further ensure claims are patent eligible.

Don’t Dismiss State Street: Ancora Decision Reiterates Relevance of Concrete and Tangible Test for Software

Judge Rich was attempting to articulate a test that would allow the decision maker to determine whether there is in fact an innovation; an invention that we recognize as one that can and should be patented if it is in fact novel and nonobvious. So, the key to the “useful, concrete and tangible result” test of State Street is the “concrete and tangible” part of the test. That part of the test must be referring to whether an invention has been articulated sufficiently so that if it is novel and nonobvious a patent could be appropriately awarded. This explanation of the State Street test would be in accord with both the Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski, as well as in Alice v. CLS Bank, as well as the Federal Circuit’s precedential decisions in which the Court discusses the need for an inventive concept under Alice/Mayo Step 2B, and particularly the Ancora Technologies, Inc. decision.

EPO Publishes Revised Guidelines on Computer-implemented inventions

The European Patent Office Guidelines 2018 were recently published on the European Patent Office (EPO) website. All substantial changes in the new Guidelines relate mainly to sections discussing the First Hurdle, the EPO equivalent to patent eligibility. Although the First Hurdle can be overcome simply by adding the presence of a computer, the number, quality of and relationship between technical features are essential in dealing with the Second Hurdle, or inventive step. A thorough analysis of whether each claimed feature is technical, or not, is essential to claim drafting and prosecution of a computer-implemented invention at the European Patent Office and many also believe may help assessing eligibility and patentability before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Thus, U.S. patent practitioners working with Computer-implemented inventions (CII) would do well to review the new EPO 2018 Guidelines.

Unintelligible and Irreconcilable: Patent Eligibility in America

The Alice/Mayo framework does not mandate a conclusion, it tolerates – even enables – whatever conclusion the decision maker prefers. This is allowed because of a universe of irreconcilable opinions from the Supreme Court. So bad is the situation that you can’t hope to know the likely result unless you know which precedential opinions the decision maker will apply… The constellation of the problems that lead to the demise of the Freeman-Walter-Abele test are again present, this time it is a Supreme Court test that has led us into the morass. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court cannot be depended upon to come to their collective senses. The Justices actually believe their patent jurisprudence is consistent (which it isn’t) and they seem simply incapable of appreciating the havoc they have wrought.