Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released several patent eligible subject matter examples, which together with the recently released patent eligibility guidance will give applicants, patent prosecutors and patent examiners more information about how the USPTO interprets the state of the law in this all-important area.
To recap, in December 2014, the USPTO released Interim Eligibility Guidance, which provided information about how the Office interprets 35 U.S.C. 101 in light of recent Supreme Court decisions. This latest interim guidance supplements the guidance given by the office in June 2014 relative to the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. __, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). This guidance supersedes the March 4, 2014, eligibility guidance for claims involving laws of nature, natural phenomena and natural products, which was issued relative to the Supreme Court’s decisions in Mayo Collaborative Serv. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 566 U.S. __, 132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012) and Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U.S. __, 133 S. Ct. 2107 (2013).
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, many in the patent community are starting to realize just how different things will be moving forward. Initially, some convinced themselves that nothing had really changed substantively, which was bolstered by the initial USPTO guidance. But quickly that bubble burst as the Patent Office started issuing supplemental office actions and even withdrawing notices of allowance, all to issue Alice rejections. So what will a software patent application look like that has allowable claims? That is a very good question.
U.S. Patent No. 8,515,829 (“the ‘829 patent”) may provide some answers. It is a patent issued to Google, which is titled Tax-free gifting. See Google Patents Tax-Free Gifting. Generally speaking, the invention relates to a system and related techniques for gifting, and paying for, digital content, including media, such as audio and video. The core of the invention, as suggested by the title, relates to giving someone something tax-free. The invention relates to a method that allows for the giver of the gift to pay for the tax imposed by the jurisdiction where the gift (i.e., gift card) is redeemed.
Apotex Inc. and Apotex Corp. (collectively, “Apotex”) appealed the decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida finding that Apotex’s U.S. Patent No. 6,767,556 (“the ’556 patent”) is unenforceable due to inequitable conduct. Apotex likewise appealed the district court determination that the asserted claims were indefinite, that they disclaimed coverage of the accused products from the scope of the ’556 patent’s claims, and any recovery of pre-suit damages was barred by laches. In an opinion authored by Judge Reyna (with Judges Wallach and Hughes joining), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding inequitable conduct, and on that basis alone, affirmed the district court’s judgment. See Apotex, Inc. v. UCB, Inc. (August 15, 2014).
The ’556 patent is generally directed to a process for manufacturing moexipril tablets. Moexipril is an angio-tensin-converting enzyme (“ACE”) inhibitor used to treat hypertension. To improve stability, the ’556 patent discloses a process of making moexipril tablets consisting mostly of moexipril magnesium obtained by reacting moexipril, or its acid-addition salts, with an alkaline magnesium compound.
As you may be aware, there is a growing number of unexamined Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs) clogging the Patent Office docket. In fact, as of the end of Fiscal Year 2012, there were 95,200 RCEs that were awaiting examiner consideration, which is almost double the 48,680 that were awaiting examiner action at the start of Fiscal Year 2011.
The USPTO is concerned about the RCE backlog and the agency, in collaboration with the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC), will host a series of public roundtables to solicit stakeholder input on ways the agency can reduce the number of Request for Continued Examination (RCE) filings.
The initiative is part of the USPTO’s effort to reduce patent application pendency. In order to accomplish this, the USPTO is seeking to better understand the root causes for filing RCEs and plans to use the information gathered during the public events to design additional programs and initiatives aimed at reducing RCE filings and backlog. (more…)
The substantial costs and uncertainty of patent litigation require the development of alternative case management strategies, which at least require consideration of challenging patents at the PTO. To this end, patent reexamination in particular has exploded in popularity as a viable alternative to costly litigation, or parallel path, to enhance litigation positions. This topic was discussed during the Practising Law Institute’s seminar entitled, Post-Grant USPTO Proceedings 2012 – The New Patent Litigation. Scott McKeown, Partner at Oblon, Spivak, Practice Center Contributor and author of Patents Post Grant Blog, broke down post-grant topics into pre-trial and post-trial strategies, issues, and goals, and spelled out cost effective post-trial strategies.
Here is a clip from Scott’s discussion during the Pre-Trial and Post-Trial Post-Grant Strategies Concurrent with Litigation panel:
The “Post Grant USPTO Proceedings 2012 – The New Patent Litigation” seminar is currently available for viewing on demand. The on demand program includes access to select chapters of the seminar’s Course Handbook.