algorithm : CAFC Alert

PTAB Finally Considers “Processor” As Clearly Structure

John Kong | June 19, 2014

Ex Parte Cutlip

June 2, 2014

Panel: Lorin, Mohanty and Hoffman.

Summary:

After the debacle of three March 2013 PTAB decisions by a five judge PTAB panel relying on a strange American Heritage dictionary definition of “processor” as being software, this PTAB decision sets the record straight about a “processor” as clearly being structure.


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CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation: An attempt in formulating the abstractness of the “abstract ideas” test to patent eligibility

Rob Raheja | July 18, 2012

CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation

July 9, 2012

Panel:  Linn, Prost and O’Malley. Opinion by Linn.  Dissent by Prost.

Summary

The district court for the District of Columbia held that claims to computer systems, computer readable medium and claims to methods of using a computer of the asserted patents were all invalid as “abstract ideas.” In so holding, the district court ignored the limitations recited in the claims and boiled the invention down to a mere abstract concept “of employing an intermediary to facilitate simultaneous exchange of obligations in order to minimize risk.” On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Federal Circuit, after considering each asserted claim “as a whole”, found that it was not “manifestly evident” that the claims of the asserted patent were drawn to “abstract ideas.” Therefore, the Federal Circuit held that claims must not be deemed inadequate under 35 U.S.C. § 101.


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Means-Plus-Function: The Achilles’ Heel

Thomas Brown | May 9, 2012

Noah Systems, Inc. v. Intuit, Inc.

April 9, 2012

Panel: Rader, O’Malley and Reyna. Opinion by Judge O’Malley

Summary

This decision illustrates that a patent could become invalidated even after surviving challenges of reexamination, which strengthen the presumption of validity, when a challenger discovers the Achilles’ Heel of a means-plus-function claim element resulting in a summary judgment of invalidity by the CAFC.   Noah appeals the granting, by the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (DC), of Intuit’s Motion for Summary Judgment of Invalidity of USP 5,875,435 (the ‘435 patent) based on indefiniteness for a means-plus-function claim element without the DC hearing evidence of how one of skill in the art would view the specification.  The CAFC affirms by finding that the specification discloses no algorithm when the specification discloses an algorithm that only accomplishes one of two identifiable functions performed by the means-plus-function limitation.


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Computer-implemented “control means” requires description of step-by-step algorithm even if not key feature of claimed invention

Nicolas Seckel | April 4, 2012

Ergo Licensing, LLC v. Carefusion 303, Inc.

March 26, 2012

Panel: Newman, Linn and Moore.  Opinion by Moore.  Dissent by Newman.

Summary

Another reminder that under US patent law, a “means-plus-function” element recited in a patent claim covers only the corresponding structures described in the specification and their equivalents.  If insufficient or no corresponding structures are described in the specification, the claim is invalid as indefinite.  The rule is strictly applied even if the functional element is only a peripheral aspect of the invention.  Here, the patent claims were directed to a multichannel drug infusion system.  A “control means” was recited (for controlling the motor that adjusts the drug dosage).  The Federal Circuit affirms the invalidity of the claims.  The specification disclosed a “control device,” but no “step-by-step process.” Since the recited function could not be performed by a general computer without special programming, disclosure of an algorithm was required to avoid “pure functional claiming.”


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