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It’s Official: Berkheimer and USPTO’s January 2019 Guidance Have Reduced Alice Rejections

According to a recent report by the USPTO’s Chief Economist, the Federal Circuit’s 2018 Berkheimer decision and the USPTO’s January 2019 patent-eligibility guidance have reduced both the frequency and uncertainty of examiners’ patent-eligibility rejections under and 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test. Anecdotally, for a number of months it has seemed that examiners were making fewer patent-eligibility rejections than they had been in the years following Alice. The January 2019 guidance in particular, as I wrote at the time, seemed designed to reduce Alice rejections. As this graph illustrates, that has proven to be true. Alice rejections peaked prior to Berkheimer; the USPTO points to its April 2018 memorandum modifying § 101 examination procedure in light of Berkheimer as accelerating the downward trend. But again, the dramatic downturn in patent-eligibility rejections occurred after the January 2019 guidance. Perhaps even more interesting than the decrease in Alice rejections is…

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Patent Claims to Virtual Smartphone for Automobile Fail Alice Test: KCG Technologies, LLC v. CarMax Auto Superstores, Inc.

Claims directed to a virtual smartphone that could be displayed on a vehicle touchscreen are patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the two-part Mayo/Alice patent-eligibility test, held the court in KCG Technologies, LLC v. CarMax Auto Superstores, Inc. The court thus granted the defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 9,671,955 recites: A virtual smart phone, comprising: a screen mounted in an automobile; a processor, a non-transitory memory, and a power port mounted in the automobile; a software application executing on the processor to control image display on the screen and emulate features of a handheld device; a visual representation of a plurality of features of the handheld device on the screen; and an interactive element, wherein the interactive element allows access to the plurality of features of the handheld device, wherein the plurality of features of the handheld device comprises volume control, messages, phone call,…

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