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Eligibility Comments to USPTO Suggest Alice/Mayo Framework Changes, While PTAB Practices RFC Sees Copy-Paste Campaign

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is currently assessing comments collected pursuant to a pair of requests for public input, one focused on the agency’s subject matter eligibility guidelines for examining patent applications for 35 U.S.C. § 101 issues, and the other seeking feedback on several practices surrounding patent validity trials at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). While the PTAB practices request for comments appears to have spawned a copy-and-paste comment campaign involving thousands of boilerplate comments, about two-dozen comments filed on the Section 101 guidelines featured far more sophisticated views on actions that the USPTO should be taking to improve patent examination practices on patent applications that trigger issues with judicial exceptions to Section 101 eligibility under U.S. Supreme Court case law.

America Needs a Chief IP Negotiator: Confirm Chris Wilson Now

The U.S. Senate might be the world’s “greatest deliberative body.” But it’s certainly not the quickest. For over a year, senators have failed to review and approve an uncontroversial nominee for a position that most Americans have never heard of—but one that’s immensely important to our economy. In 2015, Congress passed the late Senator Orrin Hatch’s Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which created the position of Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator. Senator Hatch believed that intellectual property (IP) was so important to the U.S. economy that it deserved the focus of an ambassador-rank official charged with guaranteeing strong IP standards are upheld and enforced with global trading partners. He was right: IP-intensive industries support more than 62 million American jobs, nearly half of all U.S. employment. 

Other Barks and Bites for Friday, October 21: Senators Push Biden to Protect Vaccine IP, Thaler Shot Down Again at CAFC and UPC Confirms 85 Judges

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Congress members urge the Biden Administration to protect vaccine IP; the CAFC once again denies an inventor’s push to list an artificial intelligence (AI) machine as a sole inventor on a patent; Microsoft receives a favorable ruling in patent infringement battle; a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) report finds the number of women patent applicants is growing across the country; and legislation passes Congress to stimulate young people’s participation in art and coding.

Patent Filings Roundup: Light Week in District Court Buoyed by IV-Selloff Assertions; Vidal Grants Second Sua Sponte Review of Second Institution in OpenSky/VLSI Case

This week saw 26 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings (all inter partes reviews [IPRs]) and just 28 new district court complaints—and notably and unusually, no new IP Edge filings. Most of the filings were related to three entities, the now-sprawling Bell Semiconductor campaign added a slew of new defendants, and Cedar Lane and Buffalo Patents, both campaigns comprised entirely of old Intellectual Ventures (IV) patents (both almost certainly transferred under IV’s late-stage low-cost time-limited backend deal structure). There was one (non-Fintiv) denial at the Board and a few IV patents were challenged directly by Honda; some pharmaceutical challenges were filed, but otherwise, it was a relatively quiet week in new filings, particularly in the district court (it’s the first week in as long as I can remember when there didn’t appear to be a single IP Edge filing, which certainly contributes to the lull).

Fixing the PTAB: ‘Why Are We Doing It This Way?’

Earlier this week, IPWatchdog hosted a webinar sponsored by the Innovation Alliance, now available to view for free here, in which panelists drew a roadmap for fixing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Ultimately, they said: 1) thoughtfully exercise discretion to deny the inter partes review (IPR) petitions to ensure quiet title, 2) apply the clear and convincing standard of proof for invalidity to match the district court standard, 3) change the joinder rule so that time-barred parties aren’t allowed to join IPRs, 4) create a standing requirement to bring IPRs to end gaming by uninterested third-parties and 5) increase transparency at the PTAB— for example, with respect to panel changes and transfers. The participants who delivered these solutions were Dr. Marian Underweiser, an Intellectual Property Professional and former IBM Executive, Hon. Kathleen O’Malley (CAFC, ret.), currently Of Counsel with Irell & Manella, Jayson Sohi, the Director of IP Strategy at Netlist, and Gene Quinn, President & CEO of IPWatchdog, Inc.

People’s Vaccine Alliance Report Condemns Big Pharma’s IP Stance

The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of over 100 organizations, issued a statement this week alleging that the pharmaceutical industry is attempting to tighten its control of the world’s pandemic response plans. In the statement, the organization argues that “enshrining pharmaceutical companies’ demands in a pandemic treaty or other pandemic preparedness plans would normalize global inequalities and tie the hands of governments in future health crises.” The Alliance released the statement in response to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations’ (IFPMA) July statement titled the Berlin Declaration – Biopharmaceutical Industry Vision for Equitable Access in Pandemics during the World Health Summit, where stakeholders from politics, science, the private sector, and civil society gathered in Berlin from October 16-18.

Exploring Patent Practitioners’ Duty to Correct Excess Patent Term Adjustment

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is overestimating the term of some of the patents it issues. The general rule is that a patent expires 20 years after the priority date of the application. This rule means that the longer the USPTO is processing an application, the fewer days of term the patent will enjoy if granted. To prevent substantial decrease in the term, Congress instructed the USPTO to extend the life of patents that have suffered delays during prosecution. This extension is known as Patent Term Adjustment (PTA). In addition, Congress burdened the agency with telling the patent applicants how much PTA they are entitled to. To tackle the resulting workload, the USPTO designated the task of applying complex PTA rules to a computer software.

Interactive Wearables is Not the 101 Case That You’ve Been Waiting For

On October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court once again requested the views of the Solicitor General (SG) in a Section 101 case, Interactive Wearables v. Polar Electric Oy. Last summer, there was excitement in the patent community when the SG, whose advice the Court usually follows, recommended granting review in American Axle v. Neapco. Although that petition was ultimately denied, this new case purports to fit the mold of American Axle. This has led some to hope that Interactive Wearables will also get the nod from the SG—and perhaps High Court review. To those eager for a Supreme Court decision that reins in patent eligibility jurisprudence, however, I regret to inform you that Interactive Wearables will not be that case. This case is quite unlike American Axle—and its claimed invention is in the heartland of what should be ineligible subject matter.

Cooperative v. Kollective CAFC Decision Demonstrates Virtues of Consistent and Candid Patent Prosecution and Litigation

It is sometimes said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. We have found, however, that it is often the slow-and-steady truth that wins the race in our deliberative justice system, which for patents has both administrative and judicial components. Our case-in-point is the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Cooperative Entertainment, Inc. v. Kollective Technology, Inc., which reversed a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal on patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. This case demonstrates how an invention that is potentially assailable on eligibility grounds can be given its best chance by a focused, consistent and synergistic patent prosecution and litigation strategy. Thus, it is not coincidental that your authors are a patent litigator and a patent prosecutor, respectively.

Understanding IP Matters: Beyond the Headlines – Two Veteran Reporters Confront IP Media Coverage

Communicating the value and importance of intellectual property to the general public — let alone investors, C-suite executives, and politicians — is a formidable challenge that exists industry-wide. This is partly due to the reality that writing cogently about intellectual property requires an understanding of business, law, science and finance. In the third episode of Season 2 of “Understanding IP Matters,” the podcast from the Center for IP Understanding, founder and host Bruce Berman sits down with two legendary figures in the field of intellectual property reporting. Gene Quinn is CEO of IPWatchdog, the most widely read publication in the intellectual property field. With more than 300,000 monthly visitors, IPWatchdog’s go-to coverage is a must read. Quinn is also a writer, patent attorney and leading commentator on innovation policy. He has twice been named one of the Top 50 most influential people in intellectual property. Quinn has advised inventors, entrepreneurs and startup businesses, and is highly regarded as a teacher and speaker. Sue Decker covered patent litigation and policy from Washington for Bloomberg News for more than two decades. She retired this year after 35 years in journalism. Decker was one of the very few business reporters ever to have a dedicated IP beat, and the first woman.

Letters Seek to Dispel Gene Patent ‘Scaremongering’ Surrounding Tillis’ Patent Eligibility Bill

Last week, the leadership of the Judiciary Committees and IP Subcommittees from both houses of Congress received letters seeking to address misinformation being presented by critics of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act, a bill proposed by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) that would abrogate several U.S. Supreme Court rulings on patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Both the Council for Innovation Promotion (C4IP) and University of Akron Law Professor Emily Michiko Morris not only supported Congressional passage of Tillis’ patent eligibility bill but also pushed back on criticisms that the bill would enable biotech firms to patent genes as they exist in the human body.

Presenting the Evidence for Patent Eligibility Reform: Part III – Case Studies and Litigation Data Highlight Additional Evidence of Harm

Systemic-level studies and data regarding impact on investment and innovation, as detailed in Part II of this series, are not the only way to demonstrate the substantial harm that the current state of patent eligibility has inflicted on the U.S. innovation ecosystem. Other robust evidence shows that current Section 101 law has harmed innovation by removing the incentives to develop and commercialize particular inventions of public importance. As another form of harm, the vagueness and breadth of the Alice/Mayo framework have also enabled accused infringers to transmogrify Section 101 into a litigation weapon in inappropriate cases that has created unnecessary burdens and costs on innovators and the courts.

Federal Circuit Hands Zillow a Win, Ruling IBM Map Display Patents Cover Abstract Ideas

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision finding that two IBM patents directed to technology that allows users to select and view results on a map were directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. IBM had sued Zillow, alleging that several of the services offered on Zillow’s website and mobile applications infringed the claims. But the district court granted Zillow’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding the claims were directed to abstract ideas and lacked any inventive concept. The opinion was authored by Judge Hughes. Judge Stoll dissented in part, explaining that claims 9 and 13 of IBM’s U.S. Patent No. 7,187,389 were plausibly patent eligible and should not have been found ineligible at the pleadings stage.

USIPA Survey Shows Most Americans are in the Dark on IP

Yesterday, the United States Intellectual Property Alliance (USIPA) issued the results of a nationwide survey designed to determine the level of intellectual property awareness among American adults. Perhaps unsurprisingly, USIPA’s survey found that, while most American believed they understood IP, seven out of 10 survey respondents could not identify examples of intellectual property when asked. This new research should add new urgency to the efforts of IP advocates who are trying to increase participation in the U.S. IP system.

This Week in Washington IP: U.S. Cyberspace Strategy, Cryptocurrency Regulation, and Discussions with Former U.S. Trade Representatives

This week in Washington IP news, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is hosting events on blockchain and drafting provisional patent applications, while the Brookings Institution is hosting an event on the regulation of cryptocurrency markets. Also in the cyber world, three authors will make their case for a more holistic and aggressive U.S. approach to cyberspace strategy at The Heritage Foundation.