Posts Tagged: "patent eligibility"

Divided CAFC Finds Computer System Claims Patent Ineligible

Not surprisingly, the decision of the latest Federal Circuit case on software patent eligibility – Accenture Global Services, GMBH v. Guidewire Software, Inc. – could be predicted from the makeup of the CAFC panel. Judge Lourie, joined by Judge Reyna, issued the majority opinion that the system claims were invalid. The Court followed the analysis for determining patent eligibility from CLS Bank, 717 F.3d 1269 (Fed. Cir. 2013) and affirmed the district court’s finding that the system claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,013,284 (“the ‘284 patent”) were ineligible. Judge Rader predictably dissented from the majority and stated that he would hold the system claims to be patent-eligible subject matter. One takeaway from this decision is that the Court remains predictably divided. In this case, all three judges on the panel ruled in a way that was consistent with their ruling in CLS Bank, 717 F.3d 1269 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

AIA Oddities: Tax Strategy Patents and Human Organisms

In perhaps lesser known fashion Congress made two significant, but limited, statutory changes to what is considered patent eligible subject matter. In a bizarre circumstance Congress chose not to render tax strategy patents patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. Rather they chose a far more convoluted route. Tax strategy patents are still patent eligible subject matter pursuant to Section 101, but for purposes of evaluating an invention under section 102 or 103 of title 35, any strategy for reducing, avoiding, or deferring tax liability, whether known or unknown at the time of the invention or application for patent, is deemed insufficient to differentiate a claimed invention from the prior art.

Software May be Patented in Asia, but the Details Remain Unclear

As in the U.S., when drafting claims in China, one must describe the invention sufficiently to enable a person skilled in the art to make and use the claimed invention. For software patents, a flow chart and explanation should be included, along with drawings and description of associated hardware. Portions of the source code may be included for reference. Software claims may be drafted as either method or apparatus claims. However, Justin Shi, patent attorney at Sony Mobile Communications in Beijing, warns that apparatus claims may be deemed invalid if they are phrased only in means-plus-function language and fail to describe the apparatus or its embodiments.

Patent Turmoil: Navigating the Software Patent Quagmire

Despite the turmoil surround software patent eligibility I believe with great certainty that software will remain patent eligible in the United States. The extreme decisions of the PTAB and viewpoints of those on the Federal Circuit opposed to computer implemented methods will not prevail because they are inconsistent with the Patent Act and long-standing patent law jurisprudence. After all, the Supreme Court itself explicitly found software patent eligible in Diamond v. Diehr. In the meantime, while we wait for the dust to settle, we need to engage in a variety of claiming techniques (i.e., methods, computer readable medium, systems claims, means-plus-function claims and straight device claims). Thus, if you are interested in moving forward with a patent application it will be advisable to file the application with more claims than would have been suggested even a few months ago. Patent attorneys also must spend increased time describing the invention from various viewpoints, which means specifications should increase in size. This all means that there is no such thing as a quick, cheap and easy software patent application – at least if you want to have any hope of obtaining a patent in this climate.

Why SCOTUS Myriad Ruling Overrules Chakrabarty

The Supreme Court quite directly contradicts the reasoning of Chakrabarty in Myriad. Thomas explains that it is a fact that isolated DNA is nonnaturally occurring, but still nevertheless not patent eligible. Whether we like it or not, the very foundation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Chakrabarty has been overruled, or at the very least significantly cut back. Arguments to the contrary are simply wishful thinking and ignore the explicit language of the Myriad decision.

What Should be Patentable? – A Proposal for Determining the Existence of Statutory Subject Matter Under 35 U.S.C. Section 101

The recent Supreme Court decision in the Myriad case, like past decisions, did not announce a clear rule that can be extrapolated from the decision and applied in other technology areas. Consequently, the determination of what subject matter is patent-eligible continues to be unclear. Patent law specifically identifies four broad categories of subject matter—process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter—that are patent-eligible.

Ultramercial Revisited: Rader Throws Down the Gauntlet on Patent-Eligibility of Computer-Implemented Inventions*

In Ultramercial I and II, the patentee (Ultramercial) asserted that U.S. Pat. No. 7,346,545 (the ‘545 patent) was infringed by Hulu, LLC (“Hulu”), YouTube, LLC (“YouTube”), and WildTangent, Inc. (“WildTangent”). The ‘545 patent relates to a method for distributing copyrighted products (e.g., songs, movies, books, etc.) over the Internet for free in exchange for viewing an advertisement with the advertiser paying for the copyrighted content. WildTangent’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim was granted by the district court based on the claimed method being patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101

AMP v. Myriad: Getting Beyond the Hype and Hyperbole*

By holding that Myriad’s claimed cDNA was patent-eligible, Thomas’ opinion reaffirms the major holding in Diamond v. Chakrabarty that claimed subject matter which truly only the “hand of man” can make (not simply snipped out of “mother nature”) will make it to the patent-eligibility zone. (Whether that same cDNA makes it to patentability zone under 35 U.S.C. § 102 and especially under 35 U.S.C. § 103 is another and far more important story.) I would also be careful in reading too much into Thomas’ statement (which is also dicta) about “very short series of DNA which may have no intervening introns to remove in creating the cDNA” might be patent-ineligible. By definition, cDNA (i.e., complementary DNA) is a DNA molecule which is created from mRNA (i.e., messenger RNA) and therefore lacking the introns in the DNA of the genome. Thomas (or his clerks) may not have realized that what they were talking about isn’t what would be defined (at least by a molecular biologist) as cDNA. So the impact of that statement should have minimal, if any impact.

DNA patenting: There’s still hope (maybe)

The baffling aspect of the opinion is that the Court seems to agree that both the DNA of claim 1 and the DNA of claim 2 are man-made and do not occur in nature. Of claim 1, the Court states that “isolating DNA from the human genome severs chemical bonds and thereby creates a nonnaturally occurring molecule”. Page 14 (emphasis added). Of claim 2, the Court states that “the lab technician unquestionably creates something new when cDNA is made.” Page 17 (emphasis added). According to the way many patent attorneys (and Judge Rader) think, that should be sufficient to comply with §101. But the Court does not see things this way.

USPTO Instructs Examiners to Reject

USPTO to Examiners: “As of today, naturally occurring nucleic acids are not patent eligible merely because they have been isolated. Examiners should now reject product claims drawn solely to naturally occurring nucleic acids or fragments thereof, whether isolated or not, as being ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

Supremes Rule Isolated DNA and Some cDNA Patent Ineligible

You can expect a near complete cessation in many areas of personalized medicine. If creating something in a lab, such as a composite cDNA, does not make the underlying claims patent eligible because what results is indistinguishable from what appears in nature that means that the fledgling and potentially promising technologies to grow organs for transplantation will shrivel up and die. The whole point is to create an organ that is indistinguishable from what appears in nature so that it can be transplanted into a human body to prolong life. Given the breadth of this opinion and the uncertainty it will cause funding will dry up in the U.S.

Did the PTAB Just Kill Software Patents?

Under what authority does the PTAB ignore specifically recited structure? The authority that the PTAB seems to be relying on to ignore claim terms is unclear and not explained in the opinion in any satisfactory way. It does, however, seem that the fact that the invention can be implemented in any type of computer system or processing environment lead the PTAB to treat the method as one that could be performed on a “general purpose computer,” rather than a specific purpose computer. Thus, the PTAB picks up on the arbitrary and erroneous distinctions between general purpose computer and specific purpose computer without as much as a thought and wholly without factual explanation.

Is 35 USC 101 Judged by the Claims?

This section does not say anything about the claims and while the claims define the invention they are not the invention. To suggest otherwise is to confuse reality and elevate the draftsman’s art above the inventor’s work. The CAFC and the Supreme Court are being contradictory when they state that the manner or cleverness of drafting the claims cannot overcome a 35 USC 101 issue and then examine those same claims to make a 35 USC 101 determination.

USPTO: No Change to Software Patentability Evaluation

In a one-page memorandum to the Patent Examining Corps dated May 13, 2013, Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy Drew Hirshfeld had a simple message to respond to the Federal Circuit’s en banc non-decision in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. The message was this: “there is no change in examination procedure for evaluating subject matter eligibility.”

Are Robots Patent Eligible?

Why have claims if the claims don’t matter. Essentially Judge Lourie, and the Canadian Patent Office too, are saying ignore the claims and read the specification to determine what the innovation is and then without regard to the language of the claims make your determination. Under this viewpoint claims are simply irrelevant. Yet we know that claims are not irrelevant, and such a view is directly contrary to the Patent Act itself. Ignoring claims is utterly ridiculous given inventions are not patentable. Patent claims are supposed to be evaluating NOT the entirety of the invention. The sine quo non of patents are the claims. It is black letter law that the claims define the exclusive right granted. Ignoring the claims shows reckless disregard for the well established law and is nothing short of judicial activism.