Posts Tagged: "patentable subject matter"

In Defense of Patentability of Mathematical Formulas and Relationships

“Mathematical Formulas and Relationships” fall under the “Abstract Idea” exception to the categories of patentable subject matter. Characterizing the “Mathematical Formulas and Relationships” as “Abstract Ideas” has led to misrepresentation of mathematical concepts in patent law. A “Mathematical Formula or Relationship” is a means of expression and should be inspected to extract what it expresses. Next, the content that is being expressed may be evaluated to determine whether the “Mathematical Formula or Relationship” is expressing a “Tool” or a “Model,” both of which are used for building machines and devising technological processes and neither of which needs to be categorically excepted from patentability.

Tillis Bill Would Restore Needed Clarity and Predictability in Patent Eligibility Law

Over the last 15 years, the United States Supreme Court has mutated patent eligibility into an impossibly complex and confusing mess. The Court’s current eligibility test strays far from Congress’s original intent, erodes trust in predictability, and has left many remarking that innovation in the United States is falling behind due to uncertainty of patent eligibility law. Even more troubling, the resulting uncertainty of patent ineligibility for large swaths of innovation in critical technology areas, including artificial intelligence, poses significant risks to U.S. competitiveness, economic growth and national security. The Court has had opportunities to rectify its patent sinkhole but recently declined another chance to mend the chaos. When the Court denied certiorari in American Axle v. Neapco—despite the Solicitor General’s plea to hear the case—it became clear that Congress must step in to rescue U.S. innovation.

Presenting the Evidence for Patent Eligibility Reform: Part IV – Uncertainty is Burdening Litigants and Courts, Threatening U.S. Competitiveness and National Security

The current unreliability of patent-eligibility law, documented thus far here, here and here, has also created undue burdens on litigants and the courts. In this final installment, we detail how the current unreliability burdens litigants and the courts and how it is a fundamental threat to U.S. competitiveness and national security. Patent infringers now routinely raise Section 101 as a defense, often merely as a strategy to complicate and prolong the litigation, rather than as a good-faith defense with a likelihood of success. For example, one analysis found that, from 2012 to 2014 (when Alice was decided), Section 101 was raised in just two Rule 12(b)(6) motions across the country each year. In the year after Alice, that number rose to 36 motions, and by 2019, accused infringers were filing over 100 such motions each year.

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.

Presenting the Evidence for Patent Eligibility Reform: Part I – Consensus from Patent Law Experts

Patent eligibility law in the United States is in a state of disarray that has led to inconsistent case decisions, deep uncertainty in the innovative, investment and legal communities, and unpredictable outcomes in patent prosecution and litigation. These facts have been extensively documented in multiple sources, including: the statements of all 12 active judges of the nation’s only patent court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (confirmed prior to October 2021); the findings and reports of the Executive branch across all recent Administrations; the bi-partisan conclusions of Congressional committees; a robust body of academic studies; and at least forty separate witness statements at the 2019 hearings on this issue before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on IP, including statements from advocates that oppose Section 101 reforms.

With Congress and Courts at Standstill, IPWatchdog LIVE 2022 Panel Says Upcoming ‘Action’ on 101 Will Be at USPTO

During a session titled “Politics, Policy and Legislation” on Monday at IPWatchdog LIVE 2022, three panelists who have each played a role in shaping patent law over the years discussed recent developments in patent eligibility reform, and congressional interest in so-called patent thickets being fueled by continuation patents and other topics.

Call for Amici: Whatever You Think of In re Killian, Patent Owners Deserve Clarity

[Editor’s Note: Bud Mathis is counsel for Killian]. The average attorney reading the recent opinion penned by Judge Chen and joined by Judges Taranto and Clevenger in In re Killian (Appeal 21-2113) might agree with Judge Chen’s conclusion that, “[w]hile there are close cases under the Alice/Mayo standard, the ’042 application does not present such a close case[.]” To this statement, I, Killian’s counsel, respond that, every time any claim comes close, the Federal Circuit engages in a predictable fiction in which the court: (1) announces that a claim is directed to “a something” described in such a broad and vague manner that “the something” barely resembles the claim at issue, (2) declares that “the something” that barely resembles the claim at issue is “abstract” based on no evidence or analysis, and then (3) declares that the remaining claim limitations lack an inventive concept.

Eliminating the Jargon: An Alternative Proposal for Section 101 Reform

On August 3, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, which would amend the U.S. Patent Act to clarify the patent eligibility of certain technologies under 35 U.S.C. Section 101. Few would disagree that the current state of eligibility jurisprudence is in “abysmal shambles”, and recognizing that U.S. eligibility law needs changing comes from both side of the aisle, as Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) has long questioned the court-made exceptions to patent eligibility….. I have extensively followed the developments of 101 jurisprudence in the courts and the efforts of those in Congress to enact statutory changes to Section 101. In so doing, I have contemplated how Section 101 could be improved, and thus my proposal regarding how to revise the statutory language follows.

Tillis Addresses Criticism of His Eligibility Reform Bill, Warns WD of TX Not to Backtrack on Standing Order

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has been perhaps the most active and passionate Congress person when it comes to intellectual property (IP) rights, and patents specifically, in recent history. In early August, he released the first draft of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, which if enacted would abrogate the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). He has also been closely involved with oversight of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on topics such as patent quality and has written numerous letters to the Biden Administration on issues including the waiver of IP obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, the theft of U.S. IP by Chinese companies, and more. While he seemed fairly exasperated by the end of his last attempt at eligibility reform in 2019, he explains below that the Supreme Court’s refusal to fix the problem by denying the American Axle case inspired him to revive his efforts.

USPTO Extends Deadline for Eligibility Guidance Comments via Federal Register Notice

Following U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal’s blog post in July explaining that she will be revisiting the Office’s 2019 subject matter eligibility guidance, the USPTO today announce a September 1 Federal Register Notice requesting public comments on the existing guidance. The Notice explained that “given the overwhelming interest in the guidance, the USPTO will now accept feedback via the Federal eRulemaking Portal until October 15, 2022.”

CAFC Snubs Inventor’s Argument that 101 Rejections Violate APA

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in a precedential decision issued today, affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding that claims to a computer system for identifying eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are invalid as patent ineligible. The opinion was authored by Judge Chen. The case originates from an examiner’s rejection of Jeffrey Killian’s claims of U.S. Patent Application No. 14/450,042 under Section 101 as being directed to “the abstract idea of ‘determining eligibility for social security disability insurance . . . benefits’” and lacking anything “significantly more” to satisfy Step 2 of the Alice-Mayo two-part test.

EFF Vows to Take Out Tillis’ Eligibility Bill

Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced that it is launching a campaign against Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) proposed “Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022,” which would effectively abrogate the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). The EFF’s post claimed the bill “would tear down some of the public’s only protections from the worst patent abuses.” While many in the patent community welcomed Tillis’ renewed attempt at clarifying U.S. patent eligibility law, others said the bill would create more problems by failing to clearly define terms like “technological” and including language that would be problematic for software patents.

Amicus Brief Backing Inventor’s Eligibility Petition to SCOTUS Says 101 Exceptions Constitute ‘Judicial Legislation’

On August 5, US Inventor and Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund (Eagle Forum ELDF) jointly filed an Amicus Brief supporting inventor David Tropp’s petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) regarding whether Tropp’s method claims are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. Tropp owns two patents relating to luggage lock technology that enables airport screening of luggage while still allowing the bags to remain locked. In July, just days after the Court denied cert in American Axle, Tropp asked the High Court to answer the question: “Whether the claims at issue in Tropp’s patents reciting physical rather than computer-processing steps are patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101, as interpreted in Alice Corporation Pty v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014).”

Federal Circuit Snubs Applicant’s Attempt to ‘Recapture’ Ineligible Subject Matter via Reissue

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today ruled in a precedential decision that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) correctly rejected a patent applicant’s reissue claims as “impermissibly attempting to recapture subject matter that the patentee intentionally surrendered during prosecution.” The opinion, authored by Judge Cunningham, explained that John Bradley McDonald, who is named as the inventor on U.S. Patent No. 8,572,111, amended claims 1-9 and 19-21 following an examiner’s rejection of them as patent ineligible, since they were not tied to a processor for conducting the claimed searches. McDonald added “a processor” to certain claim limitations in order to meet the requirement for tying the methods described by the patent to a particular machine and the examiner ultimately withdrew the Section 101 rejection.