Posts Tagged: "software patents"

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.

What the PTAB’s Precedential Decisions on Live Testimony and Substitute Claims Mean for PTAB Litigation

On Monday, March 18, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) designated three decisions as precedential. Two of the three decisions—K40 Electronics LLC v. Escort Inc. (“K40 Electronics”),[AIA, live testimony at oral argument] and DePuy Synthes Products Inc. v. Medidea LLC (“DePuy Synthes Prods”) [AIA, live testimony at oral argument]—explained the limited circumstances in which live testimony may be allowed during PTAB proceedings. The third decision, Amazon.com Inc. v. Uniloc Luxembourg SA (“Amazon.com”) [AIA § 316(d), grounds that can be raised against substitute claims], affirmed that the PTAB has the authority to consider whether substitute claims are patentable on more grounds than just novelty and non-obviousness. The recent designations not only provide guidance to prospective litigants in PTAB proceedings, but develop the scope of PTAB litigation as a viable alternative to district court litigation.

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.

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

Japan Patent Office Case Examples on Artificial Intelligence Offer Guidance for Other Offices on Treating AI Inventions

The Japan Patent Office recently added ten new case examples pertinent to artificial intelligence-related technology to Annex A of its Japanese Patent Examination Handbook. The examples are meant to facilitate understanding of the description requirements and the inventive step requirement in Japan as applied to AI-related inventions. In doing so, they provide a useful preview for how other patent offices might begin treating AI-related inventions. The examples are also very useful for any practitioner with clients in the AI space who intend to file in Japan.

Why the Federal Circuit is to Blame for the 101 Crisis

When the Supreme Court believes that the Federal Circuit has made an error, they will reverse and remand with broad guidance, but often are not able to determine what the proper test should be. The Supreme Court wants, and expects, the Federal Circuit to determine the proper test because, after all, it is the Federal Circuit that is charged with being America’s chief patent court. But the Federal Circuit has become myopic. It is getting tiring to read in case after case— where real innovation is involved—the Federal Circuit saying that they are constrained, even forced by either Alice or Mayo, to find the very real innovation to be declared patent ineligible. This madness has to stop! It is time for the judges of the Federal Circuit to stand up and fulfill their Constitutional Oaths. They must interpret Supreme Court precedent—all of it—consistent with the statute and the Constitution.

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.

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.

IBM: Software Patent Exceptions Make No Sense in a World Where “Software is Ubiquitous”

In Part I of my recent interview with IBM, I spoke with Mark Ringes, IBM Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, and Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel, about the company’s commitment to innovation and approach to patenting. Our conversation took place at the IBM offices on Madison Avenue in New York City and touched on topics ranging from Section 101 to startups to the USPTO. Below, the conversation continues with an in-depth discussion of Section 101 law, software patents, and how the Federal Circuit and Supreme Court have contributed to the situation in which we find ourselves today.

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.

Writing a Software Patent Application

Any good patent application that covers a software related invention will need to put forth three specific pieces of information. First, you need to describe the overall computer architecture of the system within which the software will exist. Second, you need to prepare a single flowchart that depicts the overall working of the software. Third, you need to prepare a series of flow charts that show with painstaking detail the various routines and subroutines that together connect to create and deliver the complete functionality of the computer system as enabled by the software.