Archive for the ‘Patentable Subject Matter’ Category

Section 101 at AIPLA

Friday, October 24th, 2014

The increasingly intense conversation about patentable subject matter post-Mayo, Myriad and Alice got off to a slow start at the “Partnering for Patents” meeting held at the PTO on Wednesday. The meeting was a scattering of in-house PTO reports and wish-lists, with some “outside presenters.” Alan Hirschfeld spoke briefly about the Alice decision and the first round of PTO Guidelines, but he offered nothing in the way of new insights, simply reminding the audience that the Guidelines should not be considered final and that the process would be reiterative.

Over at the big AIPLA Annual Meeting in DC, Karen Canady moderated a session today that covered topics ranging from post-grant proceedings under AIA to ethics. Of course the s. 101 presentation by Donna Meuth of Eisai and David Wille of BakerBotts was of the most interest to me. Donna used an example of the rejection of claims involving natural products that Hans Sauer of BIO posted on this website. The claims to the compound, a composition containing it, and its use to treat three types of cancer were all rejected as involving a natural product and as impermissibly tying up the building blocks of human ingenuity. Of course, many in the audience noted that that was what patents were intended to do, but that was cold comfort to the applicant, who failed every one of the test factors in the Guidelines but one.

David Wille attempted a look into the thought processes of the judges applying Alice in district court decisions. He felt that the key to “success” may lie in keeping the focus on the manipulation of real matter, like checks, and emphasizing that the focused claims are not directed to fundamental economic practices, but to the transformation of specific types of data. I think he referred to success as passing the “technological arts test.” The significance of these lessons is far from clear, but they are a start. Still, I feel like the narrator in the Dylan song who laments: “It’s not dark out yet, but its getting there.”

BIO Provides Supplemental Comments on PTO s.101 Guidelines

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

BIO recently generated a letter to the PTO on the March 6th Guidelines on the patent-eligibility of subject matter in the life sciences, particularly “natural products.” BIO invited a group of in-house and private practitioners to comment on the Guidelines and a number of them – including myself – signed off on the letter. Following appearances by a Mr. Hirschfeld at a number of industry conferences and symposia, the biotech/pharma community felt that there is a realistic chance the initial Guidelines will be released in revised form in the near future.

Supplemental comments on USPTO Myriad guidance (10-14)

“The Good Wife” Defends GMOs

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Last Sunday’s episode of “The Good Wife” featured a Christian mediation between a farmer (Robert Joy) sued by a Pioneer-like company, represented by the actor Richard Thomas, for saving GMO corn seed for replanting. The facts were a mash-up of J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred., 534 U.S. 124 (2001), and Monsanto Canada v. Schmeiser, 1 S.C.R. 902 (2004). In the former case, JEM was selling Pioneer’s hybrid seed that had been “saved” by farmers from a previous crop of the seed, in violation of the shrink wrap-type license on the original Pioneer seed they had purchased at JEM. In Monsanto-Canada, a farmer saved and replanted glyphosate-resistant canola seed from a field he claimed was contaminated by “GMO” pollen from neighboring fields.

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PLANET BLUE v. NAMCO – Abstract at the “Point of Novelty”

Monday, September 29th, 2014

In McRO, Inc. d.b.a. Planet Blue v. Namco Bandai Games America, civ. No. CV 12-10322-GW (FFMx) (C. D. Cal., Sept. 22, 2014), the granted Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings that US Patent numbers 6,307,576 and 6,611, 278, were invalid as attempts to claim an abstract idea. (A copy of the decision is available at the end of this post.)

The claims were directed to automatically animated lip synchronization and facial expression of 3D animated characters. The court read the claims in view of the admitted state of the prior art and located a single “point of novelty”: “[T]he idea of using rules, including timing rules, to automate the process of generating keyframes.” “So what the claim adds to the prior art is the use of rules, rather than artists to set the morph weights and transitions between phonemes [e.g., the change in the shape of the lips as words are spoken.]”

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