Posts Tagged: "software patents"

First Senate Hearing on 101 Underscores That ‘There’s More Work to Be Done’

The first of three scheduled hearings in which the Senate IP Subcommittee will hear testimony from a total of 45 witnesses on the subject of patent eligibility law raised many questions. While some read the proposed draft bill released by Congress last month as clearly overturning AMP v. Myriad, for example, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee, said today that was not his intention. In his opening statement, Coons pushed back against an article published on Monday by The Washington Post, which indicated that the proposed draft bill to revise Section 101 would enable the patenting of genes. Coons called the article “significantly misleading” and noted that “our proposal would not change the law to allow a company to patent a gene as it exists in the human body. I believe I speak for the Chairman and myself when I say we do not intend to overrule that holding of the 2013 Myriad decision.” The concerns leading to the Washington Post article arose in recent days, after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a statement and held a phone briefing for Congressional staffers claiming that the proposed draft bill would enable the patenting of genes. Sherry Knowles, Principal of Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies and one of the witnesses at today’s hearing, penned a rebuttal of the ACLU’s position that IPWatchdog published on Monday. Knowles spoke in the second panel of today’s hearing and said she hopes the proposed bill would in fact overturn the Myriad decision because “there’s been a dead stop in research in the United States on isolated natural products. The highest public interest is life itself and that has to be the goal of this statute.”

The Lineup: Who We’ll Hear from in the First Two Senate Hearings on Section 101 Reform

To kick off the month in which Alice v. CLS Bank will turn five, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property will hold its first two hearings on “The State of Patent Eligibility in America.” The hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, June 4 and Wednesday June 5, both at 2:30 PM in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, and the Subcommittee has now published the rosters for both hearings. As mentioned in a Senate press release last week, there will be three hearings held in total, on June 4, 5 and 11, featuring three panels of five witnesses each, for a total of 45 witnesses over three days. Overall, it is quite balanced between those who will argue for and against reform. This is quite a change in and of itself; congressional hearings on patent legislation over the past decade have largely favored those arguing against pro-patent reforms. IPWatchdog will cover these hearings, and several of the witnesses testifying next week — Chief Judge Paul Michel, Sherry Knowles and Phil Johnson —will be speaking later in the month at our Patent Masters™ Symposium titled Alice Five Years Later. 

Draft Text of Proposed New Section 101 Reflects Patent Owner Input

A group of Senators and Representatives has just released the draft text of a bipartisan, bicameral proposal to reform Section 101 of the Patent Act. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property; Representative Doug Collins (R-GA-9), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee; Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and the Courts; and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) sent the draft text via press release today. The stated goal of releasing the draft is to solicit feedback—there will be additional stakeholder feedback and Senate hearings, according to the press release.Senate hearings on the topic will be held on June 4, 5 and 11 featuring three panels of five witnesses each, for a total of 45 witnesses over three days. The draft text explicitly states that “the provisions of section 101 shall be construed in favor of eligibility.”

Business Method Patents Recover Under USPTO Guidance

Business method patents have recovered under the new 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance. As the graph above shows, allowances per office action (APOA) dropped from 17% before the 2014 Alice decision to 4% right after the Alice decision. APOA then increased to about 11% in 2017 when a new business method director, Tariq Hafiz was appointed. Tariq made a special point of encouraging examiners to allow cases if they genuinely felt the claims met the 101 guidelines set forth by the patent office. APOA rose to 17% in 2019 after the new 2019 Guidance came out in January. It is now back at its pre-Alice level of 17%. It’s still not easy to get a business method patent. An APOA of 17% implies that, on average, an applicant will have to respond to five rejections before getting an allowance. Nonetheless, it is now at least a realistic possibility to get a business method patent in a reasonable amount of cost and time.

President Donald Trump Should Investigate the Corrupt Patent System and Passage of the AIA

I am Emil Malak, CEO of VoIP-Pal.com Inc., and a named inventor on two U.S. patents–Mobile Gateway: US 8,630,234 & Electrostatic Desalinization and Water Purification: US 8,016,993. To date, our company owns 22 issued and or allowed patents, which we developed over the past 15 years. Against all odds, we have been 100% successful in defending eight Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs): four from Apple, three from AT&T, and one from Unified Patents. We are presently in litigation against Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Twitter and Amazon. My experience with Voip-Pal has made it painfully clear that the deck has been stacked against companies who own IP being used without license by large tech companies. The America Invents Act (AIA), orchestrated by Silicon Valley, was designed to destroy the very ladder they climbed to ascend to their lofty perch, and make certain that they could not be challenged.

Listings of Patent Packages Increased by Nearly Eighteen Percent in 2018

In our first article examining the 2018 patent market, we provided an overview of the data and found that prices were stabilizing across listings, buying and selling programs were becoming more streamlined, and there were more transactions overall. This trend extends to “patent packages” as well. At 591 packages (502 last year), listings have increased by 17.7%. The only year in which we saw more listings was the 2016 market. If the assets from Provenance Asset Group were included in these numbers, the numbers would show an all-time high. The number of total assets and of U.S.-issued patents also increased (see Table 2). We have benchmarked our deal flow with that of other large corporations and defensive aggregators and have found that the number of brokered packages we received is generally similar, so we are confident that our numbers reflect the market. Compared to prior years, the total number of U.S.-issued assets listed in packages increased twice as fast as the number of packages listed. Notably though, the total number of assets listed increased even more than the U.S.-issued assets. This signifies the continued importance of international assets and an elevated level of focus on elements of a package other than U.S.-issued assets. But, U.S.-issued assets are still the focus in most listings (see Figure 4). While we limit the types of package included in this dataset to the more common types (e.g. quasi-public/brokered packages containing 200 or fewer assets), we also track larger bulk deals and private deals.

The Newest Patent Litigation Venue: District of Amazon Federal Court

In yet another pathetic result of the U.S. government crashing the patent system, Amazon announces it is a patent infringement court. I guess we can call it the District of Amazon Federal Court (DAFC). They claim a cheaper, faster alternative to traditional patent lawsuits. Ring a bell?  The last time I heard that we got the PTAB. This irony is judiciously served. First, Amazon used the patent system to differentiate themselves from their competitors with the one-click patent, thus gaining market share. Then the U.S. government crashed the patent system so that no small inventor or startup could challenge Amazon with improved technologies. With no challengers, Amazon monopolized.  

Patent Trends Study Part Two: IoT Industry

In yesterday’s article, we introduced our patent-trends study (performed in a collaboration between Kilpatrick Townsend and GreyB Services) and provided high-level data across industries. Today’s article pertains to the Internet of Things (IoT) industry. With the prevalence of WiFi, cellular modems and devices configured for short-range connections, IoT systems are becoming all the more ubiquitous and exciting. No matter how powerful and sophisticated a single device is, its efficiency and usefulness will very often remain capped if it cannot “talk” to other devices. Only through these communications can the device gain a more comprehensive view (e.g., corresponding to where users are, what computations or controls may be helpful, what computations or actions other devices are already performing or coordinating). Thus, we can begin to start thinking about specifications (e.g., efficiency, speed, memory, accuracy) of a device and instead think about specifications of a system. This presents a large number of important use cases.

Google v. Oracle and the Battle to Protect Software Via Copyright

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court invited the United States Solicitor General to file a brief expressing its views in the long-running case of Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc. The case highlights the complexities of protecting software via IP rights. As with patents, the courts often struggle to apply copyright concepts to software, leaving companies bleeding time and resources. Determining what can be protected and what can’t be is complex—even for appellate courts.“ These software piracy cases are convoluted because there can be both literal and nonliteral copying, as shown by the Google v. Oracle case,” said Brian Darville, chair of the trademark and copyright practice group at Oblon. “It’s critical for companies to legally safeguard their software and ensure they’re not infringing on their competitors.”

Cray Wins Summary Judgment Against Raytheon Following Successful Venue Transfer Post-TC Heartland

On April 15, U.S. District Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin issued an opinion and order in Raytheon Company v. Cray, Inc. granting summary judgment of non-infringement to defendant Cray on two supercomputer patents that had been asserted by Raytheon. The order is the likely conclusion to a case that became an important part of the debate on proper venue in patent cases after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland, and aspects of how this case played out after venue was transferred point to the importance of that particular decision on U.S. patent litigation.

Reactions Roll in On Congress’s Proposed 101 Framework: ‘The Right Approach’ or ‘A Swing and a Miss’?

Yesterday, members of congress announced in a press release a proposed framework to fix patent eligibility law in the United States.Reactions to the framework were mixed. While many are delighted that the issue seems to be getting real attention on Capitol Hill, others are skeptical of some of the proposals. For example, Russ Slifer, former Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), described the framework as “a big swing and a miss.” Having attended the meeting on the Hill yesterday in which the framework was released and discussed prior to being circulated to the public, Todd Dickinson of Polsinelli, and the former USPTO Director, said that he can understand how those seeing the proposal without having taken part in the dialogue might be alarmed. “There are still some big questions to answer, but I left the meeting encouraged by the momentum,” Dickinson told IPWatchdog. The discussion, which he described as decidedly “more lawyerly” than previous meetings on the topic, included staffers for both the House and Senate, and from both political parties, which “is a good sign that there is a continued intention to do something,” he said.

Change May Be Coming: Members of Congress Release Framework to Fix Patent Eligibility Law

In a promising indication that there is real momentum on The Hill to fix Section 101 law, several Senators and Representatives today proposed a framework for addressing 101-related patent reform.Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE)—respectively, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property—and Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA-9), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee; Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet; and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) announced earlier today indicating that “months of hard work by the Senators and Representatives has led to this bipartisan, bicameral framework.” IPWatchdog has been reporting for some time that closed-door meetings have been held with stakeholders and members of congress to gather information on the problems with patent eligibility law. IPWatchdog also has been told that the relevant members of congress intend to hold regular public hearings on the topic beginning soon. “I think it’s wise for congress to hit the reset button and reassert its authority with respect to the statutory requirements, and getting rid of the non-statutory judicial exceptions is an absolute must,” said Gene Quinn, patent attorney and President and CEO of IPWatchdog, Inc. “I just hope that whatever the ultimate statutory language is, it is very carefully limited and narrowly tailored; and I must confess that it worries me a little that the framework says that reciting generic language won’t be enough to save an otherwise ineligible claim.”

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.

Senate IP Subcommittee Witnesses Offer Solutions for Finding ‘Lost Einsteins,’ But Miss Opportunity to Discuss Broader Patent Problems

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 3, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held a hearing titled Trailblazers and Lost Einsteins: Women Inventors and the Future of American Innovation. The day’s discussion on the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s recent report on gender disparity in patenting rates covered much of the same ground as the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee’s hearing on the same topic from the previous week, although a new witness panel was able to provide some fresh perspective on the issues. However, there were arguably some instances where the witnesses either supported or acquiesced to policies that damage the patenting prospects for at least some female inventors.

Reflections Upon Disagreeing with Judge Paul Michel

Recently, I’ve written several articles laying the blame for the patent eligibility crisis squarely on the Federal Circuit. Yes, we all know the Supreme Court is obviously to blame. They are the court with primary national jurisdiction, and there can be no doubt that the Mayo v. Prometheus decision is the root of the patent eligibility problem because it intentionally conflates novelty and obviousness with patent eligibility. In my recent writings, and in a variety or presentations and speeches I have been giving across the country—from Utah to Orlando to Charlotte—I’ve criticized the Federal Circuit for not distinguishing Mayo and Alice on the facts. If we listen to the Supreme Court at least, at issue in both Mayo and Alice were unusually simple “inventions” that are really not innovations at all. As I filed my latest article, Eileen said that she thought it was good because it would provoke discussion since I disagreed with Judge Michel’s view in the interview with him she had just published. There was a long pause in our conversation. “Am I really disagreeing with Judge Michel?” I asked. Whenever I disagree with Judge Michel, I pause. It isn’t that I am unwilling to disagree with him, but, over the years, I have come to learn that, when one is going to disagree with Judge Michel, prudence dictates reevaluating your position.