Australian Judge Rules Inventions Developed by Artificial Intelligence Can Qualify for Patent Protection

by Eric Caligiuri
The IP Law Blog

In Thaler v. Commissioner of Patents, case number VID 108 of 2021, in the Federal Court of Australia, an Australian Federal Judge became the first known jurist to rule that inventions developed by artificial intelligence can qualify for patent protection.

The case involved a patent application from Dr. Stephen Thaler, a researcher who runs a Missouri company called Imagination Engines. An artificial intelligence system, which has been described as a device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience (DABUS),

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

by Jo Dale Carothers, Ph.D.
The IP Law Blog

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,

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Supreme Court Finds PTAB Judges Unconstitutional

by Eric Caligiuri
The IP Law Blog

5-4 Opinion Offers Judicial Workaround by Giving More Oversight to the USPTO Director

In U.S. v. Arthrex, case number 19-1434; Smith & Nephew v. Arthrex, case number 19-1452; and Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew, case number 19-1458, the Supreme Court of the United States recently held that Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges are unconstitutionally appointed.  But, the Court also held that providing the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with more oversight over PTAB rulings will remedy the unconstitutionality of the PTAB judges.

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Can a Patent Violate the Laws of Chemistry and Physics?

by Audrey A. Millemann
The IP Law Blog

Quick answer: no!

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recently tangled with a patent application for an invention that did not have scientific support.  The court affirmed a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board rejecting a patent application on these grounds.  While this is not a common occurrence, in this case, it’s an easy conclusion to reach.

In In re Huping Hu, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 7776,

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Can the U.S. Government Be Liable for Patent Infringement?

by Jo Dale Carothers, Ph.D.
The IP Law Blog

The answer is “Yes” because the U.S. government has waived sovereign immunity for claims of patent infringement.  This means the U.S. government can be sued for patent infringement in at least some instances.  However, special rules and certain limitations apply as explained in 28 U.S.C. § 1498, which states, in part:

(a) Whenever an invention described in and covered by a patent of the United States is used or manufactured by or for the United States without license of the owner thereof or lawful right to use or manufacture the same,

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More Ways to Overcome Obviousness

by Audrey A. Millemann
The IP Law Blog

In my last column, I discussed the first argument that should be made in overcoming an obviousness rejection made by the patent examiner in a patent application.  If possible, the applicant should argue that the examiner has failed to establish a prima facie case of obviousness because the examiner did not make the required factual findings.  However, there are several additional arguments that may be applicable.

First, in relying on prior art references for the rejection,

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Arguing Obviousness with the Patent Examiner

by Audrey A. Millemann
The IP Law Blog

Most patent applications are initially rejected on obviousness grounds by the patent examiner in the US Patent and Trademark Office.  That means that the examiner believes that the invention, as set forth in the claims in the application, would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time the application was filed.   Usually, the rejection is based on one or more prior art references – documents that are publicly available as of the application’s filing date. 

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PTAB May Decide Patentability Under Section 101 in Inter Partes Reviews

by Audrey A. Millemann
The IP Law Blog

An inter partes review (IPR) is a procedure to challenge a patent in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The IPR procedure was established by the American Invents Act, and was intended to be an improvement on the existing inter partes reexamination procedure. An IPR is brought before the PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which handles the proceeding and decides the outcome.

Any person can file a petition requesting an IPR of an issued patent.

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No Judicial Estoppel in the Case of the On-Again, Off-Again Patent Inventor

by Jo Dale Carothers, Ph.D.
The IP Law Blog

The case of Egenera, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc. raised the question of whether inventors named on a patent can be repeatedly changed as litigation strategy changes. Because of judicial estoppel, the district court said no way.  But, on appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said no problem—at least no problem in this case.

Mr. Shulter was listed as an inventor on Egenera,

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New Fast Track for Patent Appeals

by Audrey A. Millemann
The IP Law Blog

A new temporary pilot program in the US PTO will speed up appeals in patent applications before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The program, which went into effect on July 2, 2020, is called the “Fast Track Appeals Pilot Program.” The program is limited to 125 appeals per quarter.

The PTO instituted the pilot program because of the popularity of its Track I Prioritized Examination Program for patent applications. Under that program,

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