In recent years, the Supreme Court has decided a number of cases, including Bilski v. Kappos, Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad, and Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, which involve the limits on patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.   For example, in Alice, the court stated “[t]he ‘abstract ideas’ category embodies the longstanding rule that an idea of itself is not patentable.” The Supreme Court further recognized that “laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas” are not patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101.

To determine whether claims are patent-eligible the Supreme Court set forth a two-part test in Mayo as further explained in Alice. This test consists of the following steps:


Continue Reading USPTO Requests Input on Patent Eligibility from Critical Sectors Impacted by Current Law

Apple just escaped a $533 million jury verdict by invalidating the plaintiff’s patents on the grounds that the patents cover abstract ideas.

The case is Smartflash, LLC v. Apple Inc., decided by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on March 1, 2017.  Smartflash owned three patents for technology that limited Internet access to data (video,

Jo-Dale-Carothers-015_webIt sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it?  After all, self-driving cars represent innovative progress in technology, and patents are intended “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”  U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed Audrey-Millemann-03_weban issue of first impression: what is the “actual notice” required under 35 U.S.C. §154(d) for a patent owner to recover damages for a defendant’s infringing conduct that occurred before the patent issued?

Most people assume that a plaintiff cannot recover damages for patent infringement for infringing actions that took place before the patent issued (pre-issuance damages). However, the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 does for just that. Section §154(d) provides that a patent owner can recover damages from the defendant infringer for infringement that occurred after the patent application was published if the defendant had actual notice of the published patent application and if the invention claimed in the published patent application is substantially identical to the invention claimed in the issued patent. For patent litigators, the situation rarely exists because the published claims are almost always amended during prosecution, resulting in different claims in the issued patent.

Rosebud LMS, Inc. sued Adobe Systems, Inc. for infringement of three different patents, from 2010 through 2014 in the district court of Delaware. The first and second cases were dismissed. The third case, filed in 2014, alleged that Adobe infringed Rosebud’s U.S. patent no. 8,578,280. The ‘280 patent and was a continuation of the second patent, which was a continuation of the first patent. All three of the patents covered methods for allowing collaborative work on a computer network.


Continue Reading Pre-Issuance Damages for Patent Infringement – A Very Rare Remedy

Enablement is the requirement that a patent teach a person Audrey-Millemann-03_webskilled in the art (the field of the invention) how to make and use the invention without undue experimentation. In other words, a patent must describe the invention clearly enough so that a skilled person in the field can replicate the invention without having to perform experiments to determine how to make and use the invention. The enablement requirement is set forth in 35 U.S.C. §112, first paragraph. If a patent is not enabled, it can be invalidated.

In the fields of biology and chemistry, referred to in the patent world as the “unpredictable” arts, enablement is particularly important. Thus, biotechnology patents must clearly satisfy the enablement requirement or they are at risk of being challenged and held invalid. That is what happened in Promega Corp. v. Life Technologies Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2014) 773 F.3d 1338.

Promega sued Life Technologies for infringement of five patents. The patents covered methods and test kits for analyzing DNA samples and were used in forensic science. Promega alleged that Life Technologies manufactured and sold genetic test kits that infringed Promega’s patents.

Life Technologies moved for summary judgement of invalidity on four of the five Promega patents, arguing that the four patents were not enabled. The district court denied the motion. The court granted Promega’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the patents were infringed. The jury then awarded $52 million in damages to Promega, but the district court granted Life Technologies’ motion for judgment as a matter of law. The court then vacated its previous ruling of infringement.


Continue Reading Enablement is Key – Especially in Biotech Patents