As we noted recently, Chief Judge Stark has a practice of holding "§ 101 days," in which he hears oral argument on a number of § 101 motions all at once, each from a different case. He typically issues decisions from the bench regarding each motion—which is always exciting—and follows up later with a written decision.
At first it seemed that § 101 days tended to be fatal for the patents involved, but more recent hearings have shown otherwise.
On Friday, Chief Judge Stark posted the schedule and public access information for his next § 101 day, set …
Yesterday, Judge Noreika denied an early Section 101 challenge to two patents-in-suit, in light of a factual dispute regarding unconventionality of certain aspects of the claimed invention.
Although plaintiff managed to survive the § 101 motion, it failed to meet the relatively un-demanding standard for pleading direct infringement – a test that would have been satisfied if the plaintiff had simply "identified the . . . accused products and alleged that the accused products met 'each and every element of at least one claim' of the asserted patents, either literally or equivalently." ...
Judge Noreika issued an opinion today denying a § 101 motion on a patent that covers delivering GPS navigation information to a vehicle in a "short burst."
As to Alice step 1, the Court found that the claims were "do it on a computer" claims directed to the abstract idea of sending and receiving navigation data:
[A]t step 1, claim 1 seems focused on using computers to perform a human activity more efficiently.
At step 2, however, the Court found that the patent's bare-bones specification saved it from § 101—it's hard to find that any particular solution was conventional at the § 101 motion-to-dismiss stage when the specification simply does not discuss the prior …
Today, Judge Connolly held ineligible a patent directed to "teleorthodontics," i.e., a business method for practicing orthodontics remotely through the use of 3D scans of a patients' mouth.
The outcome is not all that unusual—Judge Connolly characterized the patents as essentially "do it with a computer" patents for orthodontics, where the patent claims performing a traditionally offline activity remotely using conventional computers and commercially available 3D scanners.
And, as the Court noted, other courts have held telehealth business method patents ineligible under § 101. Here, according to the Court, the patents at issue simply applied available commercial technology to the abstract idea of connecting patients and orthodontists …
The "printed matter" doctrine states that elements claiming printed matter—e.g., text printed on paper or some other substrate—bear no patentable weight unless the printed matter and the substrate are functionally related. As the Federal Circuit explained today:
[P]rinted matter encompasses any information claimed for its communicative content, and the doctrine prohibits patenting such printed matter unless it is “functionally related” to its “substrate,” which encompasses the structural elements of the claimed invention.
In its decision, the Federal Circuit noted the Court has—incredibly—never addressed whether a claim directed to printed matter is ineligible under § 101:
Notably, since the Supreme Court articulated its two-step framework in Alice, this court has not directly addressed whether …
In ruling on § 101 motions to dismiss, the Court typically adopts plaintiff's constructions outright, if plaintiff offers any. Those constructions may or may not be enough to avoid dismissal, but I can't recall any instance where the District of Delaware actually had to reject a construction as implausible under the FRCP 12(b)(6) standard.
Until now. In Synkloud Tech. v. HP, Inc., C.A. No. 19-1360-RGA (D. Del. Sep. 28, 2020), plaintiff tried to bake the § 101 "non-conventional" standard into the proposed claim construction. Clever! But Judge Andrews described the problems with that approach as "self-evident":
Plaintiff states that a person of ordinary skill …
As I mentioned earlier this week, I recently saw a fascinating article by James Bottomley relating a non-attorneys' view on patent trolls and a specific attack against GNOME, a well-known component of many open source Linux- and Unix-based operating systems.
The GNOME Foundation was sued in the N.D. Cal. by a Rothschild entity (a well-known NPE). The case involved what looks like a pretty typical NPE complaint, alleging infringement of a single patent. His article recounted his experiences and the settlement, and argues that the patent system is broken because of how hard it is to defend against these kinds of suits.
Judge Andrews issued two new decisions invalidating patents under § 101 on motions to dismiss. The patents at issue in B# On Demand LLC v. Spotify Technology SA, C.A. No. 19-2077-RGA, D.I. 24 (D. Del. Sept, 8, 2020) and Aegis 11 SA v. Belkin International, Inc., C.A. No. 19-1161-RGA, D.I. 24 (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2020) were the computer-centric sort that one might have expected to be invalidated at some point in the case, it was surprising to see them decided at a motion to dismiss stage—especially in light of Judge Connolly's decision earlier this week granting yet another motion to dismiss on 101 grounds.
The Federal Circuit today reissued its March 2020 opinion in Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., which held a "method of preparation" claim relating to a natural phenomenon was patent eligible.
The reissue follows a petition for rehearing.
The patents involve a method for preparing a fetal DNA sample using a blood sample from a pregnant mother, by sorting the DNA fragments and removing the smaller ones using a size threshold.
The Original Bucket-Based Analysis
The Court originally described how it has consistently rejected "natural phenomenon"-related claims that fall into a "diagnostic" bucket, but has permitted method of treatment claims:
This is not a diagnostic case. And it is not a method of …
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