Since the Alice decision, the U.S. courts have adopted different views related to the role of the preemption test in eligibility analysis. While some courts have ruled that lack of preemption of abstract ideas does not make an invention patent-eligible [Ariosa Diagnostics Inc. v. Sequenom Inc.], others have not referred to it at all in their patent eligibility analysis. [Enfish LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327] Contrary to those examples, recent cases from Federal Courts have used the preemption test as the primary guidance to decide patent eligibility. Inventive concepts enabled by new algorithms can be vital to the effective functioning of machine learning systems—enabling new capabilities, making systems faster or more energy efficient are examples of this. These inventions are likely to be the subject of patent applications. However, the preemption test adopted by U.S. courts may lead to certain types of machine learning algorithms being held ineligible subject matter.
“One thing that I find curious is that Cloudflare claims to have 150 patent assets on the same type of technology,” Verlander said. Such assets include U.S. Patent No. 9342620, titled Loading of Web Resources, and U.S. Patent No. 9369437, entitled Internet-Based Proxy Method to Modify Internet Responses. “It seems to me that Cloudflare should be quite concerned. If the technology covered by the ‘335 patent isn’t patent-eligible, all of Cloudflare’s patent assets may be worthless and I imagine that their investors must be worried about that. They may have won the battle but they could lose the war because if they’re correct, competitors could jump right into the market and copy Cloudflare’s technology.”
The Alice/Mayo framework is the decisional approach adopted by the United States Supreme Court for determining whether a patent claim exhibits, such as software patent claims, embody patent eligible subject matter… Over the last six months the Federal Circuit has provided a great deal of clarity, with 9 judges (Judges Moore, Taranto, Hughes, Chen, Newman, O’Malley, Reyna, Stoll, and Plager) signing on to decisions that found software patent claims to be patent eligible. What follows is a a summary of the significant developments over the last six months.
In a nutshell, if you are going to write a patent application in such a way that at the end of the it the reader is left wondering what the innovation is, what the problem being solved is, or the technical particulars on how the innovation actually solves the problem, you should not expect a patent. In other words, if you write your patent applications without actually defining the technological solution and how it is implementing the desired functionality you describe, and how that is an improvement, you will not get a patent because the claims will be patent ineligible. On the other hand, if you write your patent applications to describe (and claim) an invention that is adequately described so that someone of skill in the art will understand what is innovative (i.e., how and why), thick with technical disclosure and explanation as to how computer functionality is being improved, or even generic components are working in unconventional ways, then you will get a patent because your claims will be patent eligible.
Earlier today the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a new memorandum to patent examiners on recent software patent eligibility decisions from the Federal Circuit. The memo sent to the patent examining corps from Robert Bahr, who is Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, explains that this most recent memorandum provides examiners with discussion of McRo, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America and BASCOM Global Internet Services v. AT&T Mobility.
This case arrived at the Federal Circuit on an appeal brought by BASCOM from the district court’s decision to grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In the majority opinion Chen made much of the civil procedure aspects of a 12(b)(6) motion, as well he should. Frankly, it is about time that the Federal Circuit notice that these patent eligibility cases are reaching them on motions to dismiss. This should be overwhelmingly significant in virtually all cases given that a motion to dismiss is an extraordinary remedy in practically every situation throughout the law. Simply put, judges are loath to dismiss cases on a motion to dismiss before there has been any discovery or any issues are considered on their merits. That is, of course, except when a patent owner sues an alleged infringer.