The USPTO held a four hour public forum on the new, disruptive s. 101 examination guidelines on Friday afternoon. The forum featured ten speakers from the patent bar, including Hans Sauer of BIO, Leslie Fishcher from Novartis, Barbara Fiacco (for the AIPLA), Greg Cox (speaking for the ABA IPL Section) and your truly (speaking out for justice, of course – my slides are attached). There were also three break periods where the studio audience or webinar participants asked questions.
There were brief opening remarks by Deputy Director, Michelle Lee, but the Forum was presided over by Drew Hirshfeld, who is Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy (He has Steve Kunin’s old job) and who signed off on the Guidelines. Jerry Lorengo, the relatively new Director of 1600 was present, but did not have a big role in the proceedings. Mr. Hirshfeld’s Legal Advisor, Raul Tamayo, made the PTO’s position on compound and composition claims clear: “The Supreme Court has never held that a claim reciting a natural product eligible unless it was structurally different from what occurs in nature.” The PTO clearly intends to fill that gap in jurisprudence, and has taken the position that a functional difference cannot per se meet the requirement for a structural difference.