Posted on

CAFC Says Internet Message Publishing Not Patent-Eligible

The Federal Circuit has found patent-ineligible claims of five “patents [that] are generally directed to allowing ‘any person or organization to easily publish a message on the Internet.’” – internet message publishing. EasyWeb Innovations LLC v. Twitter Inc., No. 2016-2066 (May 12, 2017) (opinion by Judge Hughes; non-precedential). The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,032,030; 7,596,606; 7,685,247; 7,689,658; and 7,698,372. Claim 1 of the ’247 patent was considered as representative for purposes of applying the Mayo/Alice patent-eligibility test: A message publishing system (MPS) operative to process a message from a sender in a first format, comprising: a central processor; at least one sender account; at least one storage area configured to store at least a first portion of the message; and software executing in the central processor to configure the processor so as to: identify the sender of the message as an authorized sender based on information associated with…

Read more

Posted on

The Latest USPTO Patent-Eligibility Guidance (April 2017)

As you probably know, the USPTO maintains a “subject matter [patent-]eligibility” web page with a plethora of information.  Most recently, on April 26, 2017, the Office posted a “quick reference sheet” illustrating decisions bearing on patent-eligibility analysis under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Mayo/Alice test.  Other documents, if you haven’t already taken a look, include guidance for examiners, memoranda on selected Federal Circuit cases, and “example sets illustrating exemplary subject matter eligibility analyses of hypothetical claims and claims drawn from case law.”  Perhaps the most useful document is a compendium of patent-eligibility court decisions going back to 1979. Interestingly, the newly-posted reference sheet, presumably intended to guide today’s examiners in making patent-eligibility decisions, lists many older cases from the Federal Circuit (and its predecessor, the CCPA), as well as U.S. Supreme Court cases.  Cases following the Mayo and Alice decisions are of course amply covered. For the first prong…

Read more

Posted on

E.D. Texas Splits Patent-Eligibility of E-Mail Patents

Considering two e-mail patents, Judge Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas deferred a patent-eligibility determination of one of the patents as premature prior to claim construction, but held that claim construction was not required for claims of the second patent to be deemed patent-ineligible under the Mayo/Alice patent-eligibility test. Umbanet, Inc. v. Epsilon Data Management, LLC, No. 2:16-CV-682-JRG (E.D. Texas April 18, 2017.)  The court thus granted summary judgment of invalidity of U.S. Patent No. 7,444,374 under 35 U.S.C. § 101, but denied motions concerning U.S. Patent No. 7,076,730. Each of the patents-in-suit were directed to “electronic mail software with modular integrated authoring/reading software components.” Claims of the ’730 patent recited “encoding means” and “decoding means” for encoding and decoding representations created with “authoring components” used to create representations of “a text document” and “of a document including other than text.” After citing cases discussing when claim construction is…

Read more

Posted on

PTAB Panel Can’t Agree on Patent-Eligibility

Lest anyone think that patent-eligibility determinations at the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) are easy, even in appeals in ex parte patent prosecution, consider the recent case of Ex parte Plondke, Appeal 2016-006905, Application 13/241,673 (PTAB April 3, 2017).  The claims at issue were directed to data processing software patents, specifically to an improved technique for searching for a “global extremum,” i.e., a max or min value.  Two of the three panel judges agreed to reverse the examiner’s patent-eligibility rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 101, but their third colleague dissented. Exemplary claim 1 recites: A method of determining an extremum in a processing system, the method comprising: storing a reference location identifier and a reference extremum in a storage medium; receiving an input data set comprising two or more data elements from a memory system; determining an input extremum of the two or more data elements of the…

Read more