Archive for the ‘Patentable Subject Matter’ Category

Mayo Meet Alice Meet Myriad – Fed. Cir. Appreciates “Abstract Art”

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

On December 20th, a panel of the Fed. Cir. of Judges Dyk, Clevinger and Prost – Dyk writing – found that six claims in Myriad’s dwindling arsenal of BRACA1 and 2 patents were invalid as claiming non-statutory subject matter. (University of Utah Res. Foundation et al. v. Ambry Genetics Corp., Appeal No. 2014-1361, -1366 (Fed. Cir., Dec. 20, 2014)). (A copy of the decision is found at the end of this post.) The decision makes more sense than some commentators have given it credit for, but it still reads like the plot of the last Matrix installment.

First, the panel invalidated four composition of matter claims directed to ssDNA segments useful to amplify the BRACA genes or portions thereof, when used as PCR primers, or to identify specific areas of the genes if used as probes. These were claims in US Pat. Nos. 5,747,282 and 5,837,492.

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Revised 2014 Interim Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Released by PTO

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

On Monday, December 15th, the Patent Office released revised “Guidance” on the evaluation of subject matter patent-eligibility under s. 101. (A copy is available at the end of this post.) The “Guidance” is an attempt to unify the analyses that were set forth in earlier Guidelines post-Mayo and post-Alice, and apply to all classes of inventions. After stripping away the introductory material, and the case law summaries, there are only a few pages of substantive guidance.

The most important change to the notorious March 4th “Life Sciences Guidelines” is summarized in the Flowchart on page 9 and in section 3B. If a composition is a “nature-based product,” it is analyzed in step 2B to see if it is “markedly different” from “its naturally occurring counterpart in its natural state.” However, the revised Guidance pointedly drops the requirement that the product be structurally different. Now “markedly different characteristics can be expressed as the product’s structure, function and/or other properties and will be evaluated based on what is recited in the claim on a case-by-case basis.” That is a big “or”:

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Federal Circuit flips on Ultramercial v. WildTangent

Friday, November 14th, 2014

After two trips to the Supreme Court and two remands, the Federal Circuit considered Ultramercial v. WildTangent for the third time—this time with Alice in hand—and ruled that the district court properly dismissed Ultramercial’s suit as failing to state a claim, since its patent (U.S. Pat. No. 7,346,545) does not claim patentable subject matter.

As you almost certainly recall, the patent was directed to a “method for distribution of products over the Internet” whereby a consumer was given access to “a media product” if the consumer viewed an ad. While the claim contained 11 steps, the court boiled it down to “showing an advertisement before delivering free content” or “using advertisement as an exchange or currency.” Under step (1) of the Mayo analysis, this was found to be an abstract idea.

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C.I.T. v. Hughes Comm. – Survival Guide for Software?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

On November 3, 2014, in Cal. Inst. Of Tech. v. Hughes Communications., 2014 U.S.. Dist. LEXIS 156763 (C.D. Cal. 2014), Judge Mariana Pfaelzer penned the most thorough defense of software claims attacked under s. 101 that I have seen since State Street Bank. The opinion is also useful since it both continuously cites – and often distinguishes or explains Mayo—and because it is very critical of the analytical framework employed by the same court in McRO (Planet Blue) v Namco, a September decision on which I posted earlier. (A copy of this decision can be found at the end of this post.)

The heart and soul of the opinion is the Judge’s dismissal of the “point-of-novelty” approach that she finds was used in McRO, as opposed to “purpose” test that she applies in this opinion:

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