Alice Experts and the Return of Second Pair of Eyes to the PTO

“I have not yet run into an Art Unit that does not have someone designated as an Alice expert,” explained JiNan Glasgow of Neopatents. “They won’t always tell you who it is, but they all say they have an Alice expert.”

While discussing the importance of doing interviews in every single case, Glasgow explained that although it is not something that has been generally publicly disclosed by the Patent Office, “in every art unit examiners confirm that there is an examiner within the Art Unit who is the Alice expert and that examiners have said that even if they are ready to allow a case, nothing can be allowed without the approval of that Alice expert.” This applies to TC 3600 and beyond, according to Glasgow.

If what examiner after examiner has told Glasgow is correct, this means there is essentially a return to the so-called “second pair of eyes” review at the Patent Office.


Less than 20% of U.S. patents have at least one woman inventor

Although women have more than quintupled their representation among patent holders since 1977, a pronounced patent gender gap remains. In 2010, according to a new briefing paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), fewer than one in five patents had at least one woman inventor named. Although quintupling the number of women inventors over the last 30+ years is impressive, at the current growth rate, it is projected that it will take until 2092 for women to reach parity in patenting.

The IWPR briefing paper reports that women make up only 7.7 percent of primary inventors who hold patents. According to IWPR, those women who are the primary inventor tend to hold patents for inventions associated with traditional female roles, such as jewelry and apparel.


Federal Circuit finds another software patent claim eligible

Recently,  the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in BASCOM Global Internet Services, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC. Writing the opinion for the majority was Judge Raymond Chen, who also authored the Court’s decision in DDR Holdings, which is one of the few cases to similarly find software patent claims to be patent eligible. Joining Chen on the panel were Judges O’Malley and Newman, with Judge Newman concurring and writing separately.

In this case, the Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the filtering of content is an abstract idea because “it is a long-standing, well-known method of organizing human behavior, similar to concepts previously found to be abstract.” However, the Federal Circuit ruled that the claims did add significantly more and, therefore, the claims are patent eligible.


Patent Eligibility Relief for the Life Sciences Sector

Several weeks ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Rapid Litigation Management LTD v. Cellzdirect, Inc. The patent owner appealed the decision of the district court, which had concluded that claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,604,929 were patent ineligible under the “law of nature” doctrine. The unanimous Federal Circuit panel, which was made up of Chief Judge Prost (writing for the majority), Judge Moore and Judge Stoll, vacated and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Federal Circuit ruled that the ‘929 patent claims in question were not directed to a patent-ineligible concept.

This decision could well mark a significant turning point and give real relief to innovators in the life sciences arena. Up until now, the Federal Circuit has avoided a narrow reading of the Supreme Court’s recent precedents in Mayo v. Prometheus and AMP v. Myriad Genetics. It is difficult to know exactly why that has been the case, but one strong possibility is that the Federal Circuit was looking to the Supreme Court to clarify and narrow the expansive language that they used in Mayo and Myriad.


Getting to a patent as fast as possible

Russ KrajecPatent attorney Russ Krajec is the CEO and founder of BlueIron, a patent-financing company. Krajec is an angel investor, a registered patent attorney, a former Chief Operating Officer of a venture-backed startup company, and an inventor on more than 30 US patents and applications. Russ started BlueIron because he was frustrated with what he perceives to be a conflict of interest between clients, particularly startups, and patent attorneys.

Every patent attorney knows the problems. We know what the client really should be doing, but the client either doesn’t want to pay for the proper solutions, or cannot afford the proper representation. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just do what is in the best interest of building the best, strongest patent portfolio possible without having to justify every dime to the client? Enter BlueIron. If you are a startup company and you have patentable technology, rather than calling an angel, you might want to consider calling Krajec, who offers free legal work in exchange for the rights to the patent which he then licenses back to the inventors. The inventors also retain an option to purchase the patent back at any time. The model is much cheaper than angel or VC financing.