As Managing Attorney at Rogitz & Associates, John M. Rogitz manages the firm’s day-to-day operations and many of the firm’s clients. He is a registered patent attorney specializing in patent preparation and prosecution in a range of technologies including artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, extended reality, rules-based software, computer hardware, medical devices, electrical and mechanical inventions, fintech, and business methods. His clients range from startups and independent inventors to Fortune 500 companies. Before joining Rogitz & Associates, John was engaged in civil litigation at the Watkins Firm, a San Diego-based law firm.
John also writes for various IP publications, including IPWatchdog. He has also been published in IP Today, IP Magazine, and others. In addition, John regularly speaks to trade groups like the National Association of Patent Practitioners and Licensing Executives Society and has taught intellectual property at the undergraduate level. Prior to practicing law, John worked as a web developer for Loyola Marymount University.
John is also currently involved in a number of professional organizations, including the California Lawyer’s Association (IP Section), Startup San Diego, the Federalist Society (past San Diego president), and the San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange.
In Plastipak Packaging Inc. v. Premium Waters Inc., Appeal No. 2021-2244, decided December 19, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC’s) newest judge threw a curveball on the topic of inventorship. Judge Leonard Stark wrote the precedential opinion, joined by Judges Newman and Stoll, and ultimately reversed and remanded the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Premium Waters, Inc. Plastipak’s 12 patents in suit generally had to deal with unfinished plastic bottles as used during manufacturing.
When it comes to ex parte appeals, the kid gloves come off. It’s always nice to be easy-going with the examiner when working directly with that person, but if an impasse is reached and you need to appeal, then there’s no reason to go easy anymore. Don’t be disrespectful, but it’s okay to be rigorous and articulate. With that in mind, below are a few practical tips for writing an appeal brief to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). None of them are meant to serve as a magic bullet but they might help you get a leg up. And course, you need to have a decent case to appeal in the first place or nothing I say below is going to help very much.
On January 21, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that the term “lifter member” invokes means plus function (MPF) claiming. The case is Kyocera Senco Indus. Tools Inc. v. ITC, Appeal Nos. 2020-1046 and 2020-2050 (Fed. Cir. 2022). The Federal Circuit panel for the case consisted of Chief Judge Moore along with Judges Dyk and Cunningham. Chief Judge Moore wrote the opinion for the panel. To summarize, in 2017, Kyocera filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC). Kyocera alleged that a company named Koki violated 19 U.S.C. § 1337 (Section 337) by importing gas spring nailer products that infringe, or were made using methods that infringe, certain claims in five Kyocera patents. Those patents generally relate to linear fastener driving tools, like portable tools that drive staples, nails, or other linearly-driven fasteners.
Thankfully, there has been a recent and noticeable drop in precedential abstract idea cases from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. But on October 23, 2020, the Federal Circuit provided further “guidance” with respect to Alice Step 1 and upheld a district court finding that a TecSec patent was eligible under Section 101. The case is TecSec v. Adobe, Appeal Nos. 2019-2192 and 2019-2258 (Fed. Cir. 2020). The Federal Circuit panel for the case consisted of Chief Judge Prost along with Judges Reyna and Taranto. Judge Taranto wrote the opinion for the court. While there were some other interesting issues that the opinion raises, here we will focus on the Federal Circuit’s abstract idea analysis.
In an August 3, 2020 modified opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held certain claims directed to a method of preparation to be patent-eligible at Alice Step 1. The case is Illumina Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics Inc., 2019-1419 (Fed. Cir. 2020), and IP Watchdog has already published a more-detailed write-up on the modified opinion that can be found here. I write separately to highlight an interesting quote from the modified opinion that may have currency, not just in biotechnology, but also in computer technology and other arts.
On Thursday, October 17, the USPTO issued new patent eligibility guidance. The new guidance discusses and elaborates on the 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (PEG) that was issued on January 7, 2019. The new guidance begins by stating that “all USPTO personnel are expected to follow the [PEG].” This statement is somewhat helpful given that some eligibility rejections still do not apply the PEG. After making the statement above, the guidance begins clarifying certain items from the PEG. In terms of Step 2A, Prong One regarding whether a claim “recites” a judicial exception, the guidance notes that a claim can recite more than one judicial exception. The judicial exceptions may be distinct in that there might be separate judicial exceptions in different claim elements. In other instances, there might be two judicial exceptions at play throughout the claim, in which case the examiner should identify the claim as reciting both and make the analysis clear on the record.
On June 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in Cellspin Soft, Inc. v. Fitbit, Inc. (2018-1817, 2018-1819 to 1826), reversing a district court’s grant of various Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss complaints that alleged patent infringement based on U.S. Pat. No. 8,738,794 (the ’794 patent), U.S. Pat. No. 8,892,752 (the ’752 patent), U.S. Pat. No. 9,258,698 (the ’698 patent), and U.S. Pat. No. 9,749,847 (the ’847 patent). The Federal Circuit did so because the district court misconstrued precedent from both Aatrix Software, Inc. v. Green Shades Software, Inc., 882 F.3d 1121 (Fed. Cir. 2018) and Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018). The Federal Circuit panel consisted of Judges Lourie, O’Malley, and Taranto. Judge O’Malley authored the panel’s opinion. he Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the claims were directed to an abstract idea but reversed anyway on the basis of the district court failing to conduct a proper Alice step two. This was because the district court ignored Cellspin’s factual allegations that, when properly accepted as true, precluded the grant of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
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.