is a patent attorney with Harrity & Harrity specializing in patent preparation and prosecution before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He has represented various clients in a wide range of technical fields, including telecommunications, computer networking, computer hardware and software systems, internet-related systems, and business methods. William is a graduate of William and Mary Law School, where he was a notes editor for the William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal. He attended Virginia Tech where his studies and industry experience focused on designing and implementing software and computer-based systems.
When a rule becomes a target, it ceases to be a good rule. In the three years since the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Alice, there have been positive changes to patent applications, but there remains a long-term risk that patent practitioners will use tricks to beat the Alice test. Here, we focus on the changes to patent applications by drafters, as well as changes to patent applications that have issued since Alice… Previous analyses have reported that patent specification length has been increasing since long before 2010. As shown in Figure 3, from 2010 to 2013, the average patent application length was approximately 12,417 words. However, from 2015 and 2017, the average patent application length increased to over 14,700 words… Alice appears to have resulted in positive developments, such as narrowing the scope of claims and increasing disclosure of technical benefits of inventions in the specification.
On January 3, 2017 the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the court) handed down two decisions relating to obviousness under § 103 – In re: Marcel Van Os, Freddy Allen Anzures, Scott Forstall, Greg Christie, Imran Chaudhri, No. 2015-1975 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (Van Os) and In re: Ethicon, Inc., No. 2015-1696 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (Ethicon). In Van Os, the Appellants appealed a decision from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) affirming the Examiner’s rejection of the claims of U.S. Patent Application No. 12/364,470 under § 103. The court addressed the question of whether the PTAB properly held that the claims were obvious in light of prior art. The court vacated and remanded. In Ethicon, the Appellant appealed a decision from the PTAB affirming, in a merged inter partes reexamination, the Examiner’s rejection of the claims of U.S. patent 7,591,844 (the ’844 patent) under § 103. The court addressed the question of whether the PTAB properly affirmed the rejection of the claims of the ’844 patent under § 103. The court affirmed. These two cases raise several interesting questions, especially given that they were decided on the same day.