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Cloned Sheep And Other Patent Eligibility Issues In The U.S.

Last week, in In Re Roslin Institute, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that cloned cattle, sheep, pigs and goats are non-patent eligible subject matter under 35 USC § 101. While the result that these cloned animals cannot be patented may not be surprising, the basis for the court’s finding–that the claimed subject matter was ineligible under the “product of nature” doctrine, has some scratching their heads. A more logical way to understand the decision is to read the court’s holding as finding that the cloned animals are non-patent eligible subject matter because they cannot be distinguished from naturally occurring animals.

The patent application at iss [...]

Implications Of The Proposed USPTO Attributable Owner Rules

Pursuant to a U.S. White House initiative aimed at addressing the “challenges from Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs)” and stemming the economic drain of meritless patent litigation, the USPTO has issued propose rules to require patent applicants and patent owners to disclose patent ownership information during and after patent prosecution and during any Patent Trial and Appeal Board proceedings. Written comments on the proposed rules are due by April 24, 2014 (extended from the original March 25 deadline). While many patent offices require disclosure of the entity entitled to pursue a patent, the proposed USPTO Attributable Owner rules could go much farther, and could be difficult and costl [...]

New USPTO Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidelines Raise More Questions Than They Answer

The USPTO has issued new Guidance For Determining Subject Matter Eligibility to help examiners apply the principles of Myriad and Prometheus to any claim “reciting or involving laws of nature/natural principles, natural phenomena, and/or natural products.” The guidelines focus on a “signficantly different” test, and include lists of factors that weigh towards and against patent eligibility. The guidelines also include several examples applying the new analytical framework to sample claims. The guidelines do not apply to claims that raise “abstract idea” issues, which are still to be examined under MPEP 2106(II).

This article delves into the details of the guidelines, and you can read a [...]

Inter Partes Review Proves To Be Useful Mechanism To Invalidate U.S. Patents

Last week, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent Office (PTAB) issued eight decisions in Inter Partes review and Covered Business Method proceedings, in each case invalidating at least some of the challenged claims of the patent at issue. That brings to 15 the total number of patents invalidated in an Inter Partes review or Covered Business Method proceeding since those proceedings became available on September 16, 2012, and keeps at 0 the number of proceedings decided in favor of the patent holder.

While many aspects of post-grant proceedings are still evolving, we have seen enough interim rulings and final decisions to draw a few general conclusions.

  • The vast majority of [...]
Court Decision Changes U.S. Patent Term Adjustment Calculations

The Federal Circuit decision in Novatris AG v. Lee, Nos. 2013-1160, -1179 (Jan. 15, 2014), interpreted 35 USC § 154(b)(1)(B)(i) as it relates to the impact that a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) has on a PTA award for the USPTO’s failure to grant a patent within three years of its filing date (so-called “B delay” PTA). The court partly upheld and partly reversed the USPTO’s interpretation of the statute, rendering a decision that could mean an additional several months of PTA for impacted patents.

 The Statute At Issue

The statute at issue in this case is 35 USC § 154(b)(1)(B)(i), which provides:

(B) GUARANTEE OF NO MORE THAN 3-YEAR APPLICATION PENDENCY.- Subj [...]

Update On U.S. Patent Reform

Now that the holidays are over and the U.S. Congress has headed back to work, it is a good time to review what is happening with U.S. patent reform. The Goodlatte Innovation Act passed the House in December, so attention now turns to the Senate, where the Leahy Patent Transparency and Improvement Act may be the vehicle that moves the current round of U.S. patent reform to the next stage. 

The Goodlatte Innovation Act

I wrote about the Goodlatte Innovation Act shortly after it was introduced in the House in October 2013. Although there were some changes between the original bill and the final bill, the primary focus of the Innovation Act remains to curb “abusive patent litigation.” [...]

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