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Patent Prosecution & Strategic Counseling

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In July 2019 the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) newly designated four decisions as informative to highlight the PTAB’s general consensus on issues considered in these cases.  All four cases involve the PTAB applying the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s January 2019 guidance for determining subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  The decisions focus on whether claims integrate a judicial exception into a practical application so as to be subject matter eligible. 
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The decision whether to issue a Restriction Requirement during patent prosecution lies with the patent examiner, not the patent applicant.  A Restriction Requirement can nevertheless trigger prosecution history estoppel that limits the scope of an applicant’s issued claim.  The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in UCB, Inc. v. Watson Laboratories Inc. helps show how this situation can happen and how applicants can help prevent an examiner’s decision from adversely affecting patent scope.
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Federal Circuit Closes Another AIA Loophole

June 28, 2019 | Blog | By Michael Van Loy, Justin J. Leisey

The Federal Circuit recently ruled that state sovereign immunity does not apply in Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings, closing another America Invents Act (AIA) loophole.  The case, Regents of the University of Minnesota v. LSI Corporation and Avago Technologies U.S. Inc. (Fed. Circ., 2018-1559), included the review of six Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) IPRs where the Regents of the University of Minnesota (UMN) filed motions to dismiss based on state sovereign immunity. 
Viewpoint General
Patent practitioners, inventors, in-house counsel, and patent examiners alike have been clamoring for more guidance on computer-implemented functional claim limitations invoking § 112(f) since the Federal Circuit’s en banc Williamson v. Citrix decision in 2015. To help answer some of those pleas, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a Federal Register notice on January 7, 2019 to address issues under 35 USC § 112.
A.I. Viewpoint

Emerging Legal Trends AI: Can Israel Join the U.S. and Europe as a Leader in AI Protections?

June 10, 2019 | Blog | By Michael Renaud, Asa Kling, Marguerite McConihe, Derek Constantine

The intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and intellectual property invokes fascinating theoretical questions.  With these questions, however, come significant practical issues that businesses, legal practitioners, and governments need to address proactively. Israel is embracing the challenge.
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Director Iancu Roundtable with BIOCOM San Diego

May 20, 2019 | Blog | By Marc Morley, Melissa Brayman

Andrei Iancu, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, believes that the U.S. needs a strong patent system in order to excel and thrive in the global economy.  He has made strengthening the U.S. patent system a core part of his mission responsibilities. Director Iancu has been travelling across the country and speaking with various patent stakeholders. As part of this effort, he met with BIOCOM’s Board of Directors and Intellectual Property Committee in San Diego on April 18, 2019. 
Viewpoint General
We previously reported here on a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision involving a case in which a patent eligibility rejection was overcome by replacing a “comparing” step with a recitation that the sample is from a particular patient population.  However, because the eligibility rejection was dropped by the examiner before appeal, the PTAB did not revisit the issue. 
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Understanding Antedating of a Prior Art Reference for a Patent

April 17, 2019 | Blog | By Christina Sperry

The Federal Circuit’s decision in ATI Technologies ULC v. Iancu (April 11, 2019) highlights the proper standard to use in evaluating whether a claimed invention was reduced to practice before the effective date of a prior art reference.
Viewpoint General
The general rule is that a patent claim’s preamble does not limit the claim unless the preamble gives life, meaning, and vitality to the claim.  The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Arctic Cat Inc. v. GEP Power Products, Inc. (March 26, 2019) considers the situation where a patentee wants a preamble to be a required claim limitation, unlike the more typical situation where a patentee does not want a claim preamble to be limiting, such as in Pacing Technologies v. Garmin International previously discussed HERE.  The court deciding in Arctic Cat that the preambles at issue were not required claim limitations highlights important considerations for patent application drafting and for crafting post-issuance arguments.
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Patent Term Adjustment: The Real Meaning of Applicant Delay

February 6, 2019 | Blog | By Christina Sperry, Elissa Kingsland

On January 23, 2019, the Federal Circuit decided Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. vs. Iancu and shed light on Patent Term Adjustment (PTA).  PTA was established by the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 and codified at 35 U.S.C. § 154(b), which defines three kinds of United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) delays, “A” delay, “B” delay, and “C” delay, and sets forth certain reductions from the summation of the Type A, B, and C delays.  One of these reductions relates to Applicant delays.  For an overview of PTA, see our prior articles here and here.
Viewpoint General

Year in Review: The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2018

January 30, 2019 | Blog | By Christina Sperry

As 2019 begins and intellectual property (IP) strategies are being developed for the new year, it is a good time to reflect on what IP issues were prominent in 2018.  According to many readers, hot topics included handling IDSs and obviousness during U.S. patent prosecution, blockchain, PTAB rules, and subject matter eligibility under Section 101.
Viewpoint General

Understanding Priority Claims for U.S. Patent Applications: Part 2

November 27, 2018 | Blog | By Christina Sperry, Elissa Kingsland

This article is second in a two-part series focusing on various issues related to priority claims in U.S. patent applications.  While Part 1 is a general overview of how to make a proper priority claim, this article addresses how to make a timely post-filing priority claim in an application and how to correct an improper priority claim.  Timeliness is crucial to avoid high fees and ensure that an earlier priority date is not lost.  The procedures discussed below are post-America Invents Act (AIA) procedures applicable to applications and issued patents filed on or after March 16, 2013.
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Prosecution Strategies for Avoiding Patent Eligibility Rejections for Diagnostics

November 19, 2018 | Blog | By Ken Jenkins, Jeff Giering

Under the Mayo/Alice test for patent eligibility, answering the questions of whether any particular claim is “directed to” a “judicial exception” without “significantly more” remains in many ways a substantial and unpredictable challenge for U.S. patent applicants in the diagnostic space.  In cases where the detection processes are typically deemed “routine and conventional” (e.g., PCR) and the targets are known (e.g., expression of a known gene), claims must be crafted in ways that avoid rejections for both patent eligibility and anticipation and/or obviousness over the prior art.  The recent PTAB decision in In re Srivastava et al. expressly addresses obviousness in this context, while highlighting a possible strategy for dealing with patent eligibility challenges as well (Appeal 2017-1981, Application 13/974,007, decided October 22, 2018; hereafter “In re Srivastava”).
Viewpoint General

European Patent Office Issues New Guidelines on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

November 7, 2018 | Blog | By Michael Renaud, Marguerite McConihe

On November 1, 2018, the European Patent Office (“EPO”) issued new guidelines for the patentability of artificial intelligence (“AI”) and machine learning (“ML”) inventions which indicate that applications within this subject matter may be treated as largely unpatentable. The new guidelines, G-II 3.3.1, provide that AI and ML are “based on computational models and algorithms for classification, clustering, regression and dimensionality reduction, such as neural networks, genetic algorithms, support vector machines, k-means, kernel regression and discriminant analysis.” These “computational models and algorithms” are, according to the guidelines, “per se of an abstract mathematical nature.”
Viewpoint General
Regulatory compliance is often treated as completely independent from development or enforcement of patent rights. This situation is not helped by the absence of coordination between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Still, companies must understand and appreciate the impact regulatory submissions may have on their patent portfolio.

10 Millionth U.S. Patent Issues Today

June 19, 2018 | Blog | By William Geary, Linda Azrin

Further to our previous blog post, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reported that the 10 millionth patent issued today with the new patent cover design.

Personalized Medicine Gets a Boost from Federal Circuit’s Vanda Pharma Decision – PART II: Enforcement

May 1, 2018 | Advisory | By Muriel M. Liberto, PhD, Esq., Jennifer Dereka

The Federal Circuit’s decision in Vanda Pharm. Inc. v West-Ward Pharm. Intl. Ltd. (2016-2707, 2016-2708 April 13, 2018) provided some good news on the subject matter eligibility front for innovators and other stakeholders in the personalized medicine space, as discussed in a previous post.

With Software Patents and Means-Plus-Function, “Structure” Takes On a New Meaning

April 17, 2018 | Blog | By Steven Jensen, Jonathon Western

Software patents are generally directed to a sequence of steps or rules, i.e., an algorithm, performed by a computer programmed to carry out the algorithm.  Because algorithms are inherently functional in nature, software patent claims are frequently written using functional, as opposed to structural, terms.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) anticipates issuing the 10 millionth utility patent at some point during the summer 2018.
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in February that it was wrong for a judge to rule that a patent was ineligible under the Alice standard because there were underlying factual disputes that could not be resolved on summary judgement.
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