patent eligibility : CAFC Alert

Alice: ‘This is impossible’ (Alice in Wonderland 2010): Alice (Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l,), aid’s in striking yet another blow against the pursuit of diagnostic test method

Adele Critchley | June 26, 2017

Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics LLC

June 16, 2017

Before Lourie, Reyna and Wallach.  Opinion by Reyna.

Summary:

The CAFC affirmed the invalidly of method claims in three diagnostic test patents held by Cleveland Clinic Foundation (hereon – Cleveland Clinic), and further affirmed that True Health Diagnostics LLC (hereon – True Health) was not liable for contributory or induced infringement of a fourth patent directed to methods of treating patients diagnosed by the diagnostic tests.

This CAFC decision strikes another blow against the patent eligibility of diagnostic methods, while further highlighting the difficulty of enforcing method treatments based on such diagnostic tests (i.e., personalized medicine).


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Claims Directed to the Abstract Idea of Encoding/Decoding Image Data are Found Not Patent Eligible

Bill Schertler | May 22, 2017

RecogniCorp v. Nintendo

April 28, 2017

Before Lourie, Reyna and Stoll.  Opinion by Reyna.

Summary:

RecogniCorp sued Nintendo in district court for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,005,303 (“ the ‘303 patent”) directed to a method and apparatus for encoding/decoding image data.  Nintendo filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asserting that the claims were ineligible under 35 U.S.C. §101.  The district court concluded that RecogniCorp’s claims failed the Alice test, and granted Nintendo’s motion.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed, finding that the ‘303 patent’s claims are directed to the abstract idea of encoding and decoding image data, and the claims do not contain an inventive concept sufficient to render the claims patent eligible.


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Another fatality attributed to 35 U.S.C. §101 abstract idea

Bill Schertler | August 5, 2016

Electric Power Group, LLC v Alstom

August 1, 2016

Before: Taranto, Bryson and Stoll.  Opinion by Taranto.

Summary:

Electric Power Group sued Alstom alleging infringement of various claims of U.S. Patents Nos. 7,233,843; 8,060,259; and 8,401,710 directed to systems and methods for performing real-time performance monitoring of an electric power grid.  On Alstom’s motion for summary judgment, the district court held that Electric Power Group’s asserted patent claims fail the standard for patent eligibility under §101.  The CAFC affirmed finding the claims don’t go beyond the abstract idea of the collection, analysis, and display of available information in a particular field.


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Patent eligible Laboratory methods

Yoshiya Nakamura | July 13, 2016

Rapid Litigation Management Ltd. v. CellzDirect, Inc.

July 5, 2016

Before Prost, Moore and Stoll.  Opinion by Prost.

Summary

Patented claims at issue were directed to a method of producing a desired preparation of hepatocytes (liver cells) useful for laboratory tests such as drug safety tests.  The claimed process was invented based on the discovery that liver cells are capable of surviving multiple freeze-thaw cycles, which provides desired pool samples of hepatocytes from multiple donners.  The district court held that the claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. §101.  CAFC vacated the decision, holding that the claimed process is not directed to a patent-ineligible concept.

ドラッグテスト等に有用な肝細胞プールを調製する方法を記載した特許クレームが、101条の特許対象要件を満たすか否かを争われたケースである。従来は、肝細胞の冷凍保存は1回が限度であると認識されていた(一度解凍したら使い捨てとなる)。しかし、本件発明者は肝細胞を複数回冷凍保存しても使用できることを発見し、少なくとも2回の冷凍-解凍の工程を記した方法に特許を受けた。複数回の冷凍-解凍を繰り返せること利用して、異なるドナーからの肝細胞プールを無駄なく適宜に調製できるという利点がある。

近年最高裁判決の下、自然法則または自然現象を優位に超える特徴をクレームに記載しなければ特許対象にはならない。地裁は肝細胞が冷凍保存可能であることはその細胞の自然能力の発揮にすぎず、本特許の方法は自然法則の利用を優位に超える特徴を記載していないとして同特許を無効にした。高裁はその地裁判決を破棄し、従来の知見反して肝細胞の冷凍を2回以上繰り返す工程を記載した本特許の方法は従来の方法にはない利点があるから特許可能対象であると判示した。複数回の冷凍保存を行うことができるという科学的発見に基づくシンプルな発明コンセプトであるが、新規で有用な結果をもたらす方法は特許対象になりえることが示された。このケースは発見を利用する発明を新規な「方法」として記載することで特許対象になり得ることを示しているが、その肝細胞を「プロダクト」としてクレームした場合は自然物の寄せ集めであり特許対象になりえないことも示唆された(Funk Bros判決参照)。一方で、101条の特許対象要件の判断において従来技術との対比が重要な意味を持ち得ることを示した判決でもある。


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A “revolutionary” prenatal care patent is invalidated under the Mayo test

John M. Wang | July 30, 2015

Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., Et Al. v. Sequenom, Inc., Et Al.

June 12, 2015

Before: Reyna (Opinion author), Linn (Concurring), and Wallach

Summary
The Federal Circuit held that the method claims of the asserted patent are invalid as patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C.S. § 101 because the method claims are directed to naturally occurring phenomena, and do not contain an inventive concept sufficient to “transform” the claimed naturally occurring phenomenon into a patent-eligible application.
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Specific application of an abstract idea may be patent eligible

Rob Raheja | June 26, 2013

Ultramercial, Inc. v. Hulu, LLC.

June 21, 2013

Panel: Rader, Lourie and O’Malley.  Opinion by Rader.  Concurrence by Lourie

Summary

Ultramercial, Inc. sued Hulu, LLC for infringement of U.S. Patent 7,346,545 (the ‘545 patent) directed to a method of monetizing and distributing copyrighted products over the Internet. The district court dismissed the patent suit by holding that the patent claims an abstract idea; therefore, it is not a process under 35 U.S.C. §101. In an earlier decision, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s holding and remanded. The Supreme Court of the United States vacated the earlier decision by the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit again holds that the patent does not claim an abstract idea because the claims are not drawn to a mathematical algorithm or a series of purely mental steps because the claims require, among other things, a particular method for collecting revenue from the distribution of media products over the Internet by way of controlled interaction with a consumer over an Internet website. Therefore, the Federal Circuit again reversed the district court’s holding and remanded for further proceeding.


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The Alice in Wonderland En Banc Decision by the Federal Circuit in CLS Bank v. Alice

John Kong | May 13, 2013

CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation (en banc)

May 10, 2013

After the Federal Circuit issued its en banc decision on May 10, 2013 in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp, the patent owner Alice Corp must be feeling like Alice in Alice in Wonderland, bewildered and frightened by the fantastical situation in which they find themselves:

(1) “bewildered” because an equally divided Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that Alice’s claimed system to tangible machine components including a first party device, a data storage unit, a second party device, a computer, and a communications controller, programmed with specialized functions consistent with detailed algorithms disclosed in the patent, constitutes a patent ineligible “abstract idea;”

(2) “frightened” because, as Judge Moore puts it, “this case is the death of hundreds of thousands of patents, including all business method, financial system, and software patents as well as many computer implemented and telecommunications patents” (Moore Op. at 2); and

(3) “fantastical” because, as Judge Newman puts it, the en banc court was tasked to provide objective standards for 35 USC §101 patent-eligibility, but instead has “propounded at least three incompatible standards, devoid of consensus, serving to add to the unreliability and cost of the [patent] system…[such that] the only assurance is that any successful innovation is likely to be challenged in opportunistic litigation, whose result will depend on the random selection of the panel” (Newman Op. at 1-2).


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