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Mechanical Inventions Still Potentially Ineligible: American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings (Part 2 of 2)

The Federal Circuit recently denied a rehearing en banc in American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings, letting stand a panel decision invalidating a method of manufacturing driveline propeller shafts as ineligible subject matter under § 101. This post covers the multiple concurrences and dissents accompanying the rehearing denial, which reveal a splintered court. Part 1 covered the background and the modified panel decision, in which the court invalidated this claim as ineligible subject matter: 22. A method for manufacturing a shaft assembly of a driveline system, the driveline system further including a first driveline component and a second driveline component, the shaft assembly being adapted to transmit torque between the first driveline component and the second driveline component, the method comprising: providing a hollow shaft member; tuning a mass and a stiffness of at least one liner; and inserting the at least one liner into the shaft member; wherein…

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Mechanical Inventions Still Potentially Ineligible: American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings (Part 1 of 2)

The Federal Circuit has modified a panel decision and denied a rehearing en banc in a closely watched § 101 case, American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings. The original decision had found all the claims, which were directed to a method of manufacturing driveline propeller shafts, ineligible subject matter (previously covered in this post). The new panel decision maintained that result for two of the independent claims but remanded on a third independent claim. (Stay tuned for a follow-up post on the en banc denial, which revealed a fractured court with multiple concurrences and dissents and a 6-6 tie vote.) Much of the controversy centered on the subject matter of the patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 7,774,911—not software or medical diagnostics, as in most applications of § 101, but instead a purely mechanical invention. All three independent claims were for “a method for manufacturing a shaft assembly of…

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CAFC Split Favors Patent-Eligibility of Network Monitoring Claims: Packet Intelligence LLC v. NetScout Systems, Inc.

A split Federal Circuit panel disagreed whether patent claims directed to network monitoring for whether received packets belong to a particular “conversational flow” are directed to an abstract idea. Judge Lourie was joined by Judge Hughes in affirming a district court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law rejecting a defense of patent-eligibility, under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, of claims directed to determining whether received packets belong to a particular “conversational flow.” Packet Intelligence LLC v. NetScout Systems, Inc., No. 2019-2041 (July 14, 2020) (precedential) (appeal from the Eastern District of Texas; Judge Gilstrap). Judge Reyna, concurring in the court’s opinion on a host of other issues, dissented with respect to § 101 validity, saying that the patent claims were directed to an abstract idea, and that the case should have been remanded to the District Court for further analysis concerning a possible inventive concept under…

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Patent Claims to Authenticating Users in Transactions Lack Technical Improvement, Fail Patent-Eligibility: Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc.

Claims directed to authenticating users for a transaction are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo patent-eligibility test, and therefore the court granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc., Civ. No. 17-585-CFC-SRF (D. Del. June 30, 2020). The court overruled a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation that the motion be denied, and came just a week after another decision by the same judge (Colm Connolly) in another case holding patent claims directed to authenticating users to transactions ineligible. At issue in this case were U.S. Patent Nos. 8,856,539; 9,100,826; 8,577,813; and 9,530,137. The court began by analyzing claim 22 of the ’539 patent, which recites as follows: A method for providing information to a provider to enable transactions between the provider and entities who have secure data stored in a secure registry in which each entity is identified by a time-varying…

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Conclusory Legal Statements are not Factual Allegations to Survive Section 101 Eligibility: Dropbox Inc. v. Synchronoss Techs, Inc.

Conclusory legal statements that attempt to invoke a factual allegation do not sufficiently allege an inventive concept to satisfy patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Dropbox Inc., Orcinus Holdings, LLC v. Synchronoss Techs. Inc, 2019-1765, 2019-1767, 2019-1823 (Fed. Cir. June 19, 2020) (nonprecedential). Plaintiff Dropbox asserted infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,178,505, 6,058,399, and 7,567,541 against Defendant Synchronoss. The patents are directed to data security and data uploading to websites and networks. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), holding that all three patents as ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In particular, the district court held that Plaintiff failed to allege an inventive concept to satisfy the second part of the two-part Alice test. The details of the specific patents would warrant their own posts, so we will focus on the Court’s discussion of Plaintiff’s factual allegations of an inventive concept. Some courts have…

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