Federal Circuit Makes It More Difficult for Accused Infringers to File Declaratory Judgment Actions

In its March 13, 2020 decision in Communications Test Design, Inc. v. Contec, LLC, the Federal Circuit highlighted the obstacles that an accused infringer faces in filing a declaratory judgment action.  In particular, the Federal Circuit held that district courts may refuse to hear declaratory judgment actions filed while licensing negotiations are ongoing.  The court reasoned that dismissing such cases is consistent with the policy of promoting “extrajudicial dispute resolution.”  Ironically, however, the decision in Communications Test Design is likely to have the opposite effect—discouraging alleged infringers from entering into negotiations for fear of losing the ability to file a declaratory judgment action. The decision is also likely to place more control of both the negotiations and litigation in the hands of the patent owner. Continue Reading

Machine Learning Patentability in 2019: 5 Cases Analyzed and Lessons Learned Part 4

Introduction

This article is the fourth in a five-part series. Each of these articles relates to the state of machine-learning patentability in the United States during 2019. Each of these articles describe one case in which the PTAB reversed an Examiner’s Section-101 rejection of a machine-learning-based patent application’s claims. The first article of this series described the USPTO’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (2019 PEG), which was issued on January 7, 2019. The 2019 PEG changed the analysis provided by Examiners in rejecting patents under Section 101[1] of the patent laws, and by the PTAB in reviewing appeals from these Examiner rejections. The previous article of this series described methods for overcoming 101 rejections where the PTAB has found that an abstract idea is “recited.” This article describes another case where the PTAB applied the 2019 PEG to a machine-learning-based patent and concluded that the Examiner was wrong. Continue Reading

Open Source-ish! What Defines Open Source and Why it Really Matters in Investments and Acquisitions

The number of different open source licenses is growing and the variation in their terms and complexity is increasing. A number of licenses that appear to be, or are commonly referred to as “open source” do not actually meet the Open Source Initiative (OSI) definition of “open source.” Thus, they do not appear on the OSI list of approved open source licenses. We like to say that these licenses are open source-ish! The lack of standard definition of “open source” can lead to potential legal issues and business problems, particularly in connection with investments or acquisitions in companies that use software covered by such licenses. This is relevant to both companies that use open source software (OSS) and potential investors in or acquirors of those companies. Continue Reading

Intellectual Property Outlook: Cases and Trends to Follow in 2020 — PART 3

PART 3: HOT TOPICS RELATED TO INTER PARTES REVIEW

In this four-part series, we take a look forward at the cases, legislation, and other trends that are likely to have a significant impact on intellectual property law and practice in 2020.  In the first two parts of the series, we looked at the IP issues currently pending before the Supreme Court and possible changes to the law of patent eligibility.

In this third part of the series, we look at several issues related to inter partes review proceedings that we expect to be hot topics in 2020, including:

  • Whether the appointment of Administrative Patent Judges on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the “PTAB”) violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution;
  • Whether the PTAB will allow a greater number of claim amendments under the Pilot Program announced in March 2019;
  • Whether the deadline to file an IPR petition should continue to run when an infringement case is dismissed without prejudice;
  • Whether invalidation of patent claims in an IPR should retroactively annul district court decisions on infringement and validity; and
  • Whether the PTAB will be able to coherently apply the new standard for identifying real-parties-in-interest.

Continue Reading

Machine Learning Patentability in 2019: 5 Cases Analyzed and Lessons Learned Part 3

Introduction

This article is the third in a five-part series. Each of these articles relates to the state of machine-learning patentability in the United States during 2019. Each of these articles describe one case in which the PTAB reversed an Examiner’s Section 101 rejection of a machine-learning-based patent application’s claims. The first article of this series described the USPTO’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (2019 PEG), which was issued on January 7, 2019. The 2019 PEG changed the analysis provided by Examiners in rejecting patents under Section 101[1] of the patent laws, and by the PTAB in reviewing appeals from theses Examiner rejections. The second article of this series includes methods for overcoming rejections based on the “mental processes” category of abstract ideas, on an application for a “probabilistic programming compiler” that performs the seemingly 101-vulnerable function of “generat[ing] data-parallel inference code.” This article describes another case where the PTAB applied the 2019 PEG to a machine-learning-based patent and concluded that the Examiner was wrong. Continue Reading

Machine Learning Patentability in 2019: 5 Cases Analyzed and Lessons Learned Part 2

Introduction

This article is the second in a five-part series. Each of these articles relates to the state of machine-learning patentability in the United States during 2019. Each of these articles describe one case in which the PTAB reversed an Examiner’s Section-101 rejection of a machine-learning-based patent application’s claims. The first article of this series described the USPTO’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (2019 PEG), which was issued on January 7, 2019. The 2019 PEG changed the analysis provided by Examiners in rejecting patents under Section 101[1] of the patent laws, and by the PTAB in reviewing appeals from these Examiner rejections. The first article of this series also includes a case that illustrates the effect of reciting AI components in the claims of a patent application. The following section of this article describes another case where the PTAB applied the 2019 PEG to a machine-learning-based patent and concluded that the Examiner was wrong. Continue Reading

Machine Learning Patentability in 2019: 5 Cases Analyzed and Lessons Learned Part 1

Introduction

This article is the first of a five-part series of articles dealing with what patentability of machine learning looks like in 2019. This article begins the series by describing the USPTO’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (2019 PEG) in the context of the U.S. patent system. Then, this article – and the four following articles – will describe one of five cases in which Examiner’s rejections under Section 101 were reversed by the PTAB under this new 2019 PEG. Each of the five cases discussed deal with machine-learning patents, and may provide some insight into how the 2019 PEG affects the patentability of machine-learning, as well as software more broadly. Continue Reading

Intellectual Property Outlook: Cases and Trends to Follow in 2020 — PART 2

PART 2: EFFORTS TO CLARIFY PATENT ELIGIBILITY UNDER § 101

In this four-part series, we take a look forward at the cases, legislation, and other trends that are likely to have a significant impact on intellectual property law and practice in 2020. The first part of the series – looking at IP issues currently pending before the Supreme Court – can be found here.

In this second part of the series, we look at possible developments in the law of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U.S. 66 (2012), and Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014), patent eligibility has likely been the single most confounding and controversial issue in the area of patent law. In this article, we consider:

  • The current state of patent eligibility since the decisions in Mayo and Alice;
  • Efforts to get the Supreme Court to address § 101 again;
  • The growing trend of avoiding § 101 issues through artful pleading;
  • Whether courts will return to a modified version of the “machine-or-transformation” test as a way to ensure patentability of “physical” inventions; and
  • Potential legislative “fixes” to patent eligibility. Continue Reading

Intellectual Property Outlook: Cases and Trends to Follow in 2020 – PART1

PART 1: IP ISSUES CURRENTLY PENDING BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT

In the first part of our series, we briefly summarize the intellectual property issues that the Supreme Court has already agreed to address in 2020. In particular, we provide a brief overview and key takeaways for the Supreme Court’s consideration of:

  • Whether adding “.com” to a generic mark creates a protectable trademark;
  • The scope of appeals from IPR proceedings;
  • The ability to copyright software interfaces;
  • Requirements for recovering an infringer’s profits in trademark cases;
  • State sovereign immunity from copyright infringement claims; and
  • Copyright protection for state law annotations.

Continue Reading

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Patents – Will the Patent Office Change the Rules?

The number of patents for inventions based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning continues to grow rapidly. Some of these inventions relate to AI technology per se, and some relate to the use of AI in specific applications, including many in healthcare, financial services and blockchain, among other industries. The USPTO has addressed various aspects of intellectual property issues with these technologies in various ways, including in an event it hosted entitled “Artificial Intelligence: Intellectual Property Policy Considerations (January 2019).” Due to some of the unique issues with these technologies, the USPTO is considering whether it should make any changes to how it handles examination of these applications. As part of this analysis, the USPTO issued a request for public comments on protection and examination of these inventions. Last fall, the USPTO issued a Federal Register Notice, 84 Fed. Reg. 166 (Aug. 27, 2019) entitled, “Request for Comments on Patenting Artificial Intelligence Inventions.” Soon after, the USPTO issued another Notice, 84 Fed. Reg. 210 (Oct. 30, 2019) entitled, “Request for Comments on Intellectual Property Protection for Artificial Intelligence Innovation,” which expanded the scope of its inquiry (from just AI patents) to further cover copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights impacted by AI. In a third notice, the PTO extended the comment period until January 10, 2020.

If you are focused on developing technology that uses AI, machine learning or deep learning, now is the time to weigh in if you want to influence the discussion. We will continue to follow this issue and provide updates. If you have questions on patents or other legal issues in these areas, please contact us.

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