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Fed. Cir. Affirms Command and Control Patent-Ineligibility

In a one-line per curiam Rule 36 judgment, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s judgment on the pleadings that claims of patents directed to “command-and-control processing” recited ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  Appistry Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc., No. 2015-2077 (Fed. Cir. Feb 10, 2017) (Judges Lourie, Hughes, and Stoll).  The patents at issue were U.S. Patent Nos. 8,200,746 and 8,341,209, both entitled “System And Method For Processing Information Via Networked Computers Including Request Handlers, Process Handlers, And Task Handlers.” This post summarized, and links to, the lower court’s decision. As we have previously noted, the increasing volume of patent-eligibility cases flowing through the Federal Circuit’s docket is resulting in an increasing number of cursory affirmances of findings of patent-ineligibility.  As much as the seeming plasticity of the Alice/Mayo patent-eligibility test frustrates practitioners, there are, more and more, easy patent-eligibility cases.

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Article-Tracking Held Patent-Ineligible Abstract Idea

Patent claims drawn to determining if articles are in a specified geographic area, and then taking an action based on the determination, are not eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l.  CalAmp Wireless Networks Corporation v. ORBCOMM, Inc., No. 3:16cv906-HEH (E.D. Va. Feb 9, 2017.) Accordingly, the court in this case granted a partial motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), holding claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,850,839 patent-ineligible under Section 101. The ’839 patent, including its asserted claims, is directed to “tracking an object by determining whether the object is presently located within a prescribed geographic area and taking appropriate action depending on whether the object is or is not within that area.”  Here is claim 1: A method for determining whether an article tracking device is within a spatial zone, the method comprising the steps of: obtaining a current time and…

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Can Legislation Resolve the Patent-Eligibility Mess?

A recent proposal by the Intellectual Property Owners Association for amending 35 U.S.C. § 101 to attempt to clarify the law of patent-eligibility has garnered a lot of attention.  In essence, the IPO proposes to curtail, if not eliminate, the Mayo/Alice “abstract idea” test.  The clear intention, and effect, of the proposal would be to make it harder for the USPTO, and the courts, to reject and invalidate software patent claims.  But as a practitioner, my interest in the proposal lies in whether it would enhance predictability of patent-eligibility analysis, thereby providing clients with better bases for making business decisions predicated on whether patent claims do – or do not – recite eligible subject matter.  Does the IPO’s proposal really further this goal? The IPO’s proposed amendment to Section 101 is as follows: 101(a) ELIGIBLE SUBJECT MATTER: Whoever invents or discovers, and claims as an invention, any new and useful process,…

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