Tag Archives | section 101

Card Games Using a Standard Deck Face a Tough Road at the Patent Office

Ray and Amanda Smith applied for a patent on a method of playing a wagering card game. The title of their patent application was “Blackjack Variation.” The court of appeals noted that the Smiths’ claim were directed to rules for playing a wagering game using conventional shuffling and dealing of a standard deck of cards. As such, the court of appeals found the Smiths’ claims were not patent eligible in In Re Smith, No. 2015-1664 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

The court found that the Smiths’ claim were similar to other fundamental economic practices previously found abstract. The court agreed with the reasoning of the patent office that “[a] wagering game is, effectively, a method of exchanging and resolving financial obligations based on the probabilities created during the distribution of cards.”…

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Tabbed-Spreadsheet Claims Found Patent-Eligible

Data Engine Technologies (DET) sued Google claiming that it infringed several claims of U.S. Patents 5,590,259, 5,784,545, 6,282,551 directed to tabbed-spreadsheets, among others. The patents claim system and methods for making complex electronic spreadsheets more accessible by providing familiar, user-friendly interface objects–specifically notebook tabs–to navigate through spreadsheets.

Google asserted that the claims of these patents were directed to abstract ideas and did not provide an inventive concept. The Federal Circuit disagreed finding claims directed to the tabbed spreadsheet were patent eligible in Data Engine Technologies LLC v. Google LLC, No. 2017-1135 (Fed. Cir. 2018).

Figure 4D of the ‘259 patent shows tabs at the bottom of each sheet.

Figure 2D provides an enlarged view of the tabs.

The court notes that while these tabbed spreadsheet interfaces are common …

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Computer Based Method of Determining Optimal Product Price Not Patent Eligible

USPatent7970713OIP Technologies sued Amazon alleging that Amazon infringed OIP’s patent 7,970,713 directed to a computer based method of automatically determining the optimal price for a product. The court of appeals determined that the claimed method was not patent eligible as an abstract idea under 35 USC 101 in OIP Technologies v. Amazon, No. 2012-1696 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

The court summarized the limitations of claims 1 of the ‘713 patent as: “(1) testing a plurality of prices; (2) gathering statistics generated about how customers reacted to the offers testing the prices; (3) using that data to estimate outcomes (i.e. mapping the demand curve over time for a given product); and (4) automatically selecting and offering a new price based on the estimated outcome.”

Following the two step test from Alice

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Non-invasive Prenatal Genetic Testing Method Not Patent Eligible

NonInvasivePrenatalDiagnosisPatentToday test results from a pregnant mother’s blood can detect characteristics of the fetus, such as genetic defects or gender. The method of detecting such characteristics was found non patent eligible by the Court of Appeals in Ariosa Diagnostics v. Sequenom, Inc., Nos. 2014-1139, 2014-1144 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

In 1996, Drs. Dennis Lo and James Wainscoat discovered cell-free fetal DNA (“cffDNA”) in maternal plasma and serum. This plasma and serum was previously discarded as waste by researchers. cffDNA is non-cellular fetal DNA that circulates freely in the blood stream of a pregnant woman. Drs. Lo and Wainscoat used known laboratory techniques to detect the cffDNA and determine fetal characteristics, such as genetic defects or  gender. U.S. Patent 6,258,540, titled “Non-invasive prenatal diagnosis” was granted on this method. But …

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Claims to Intermediated Financial Settlement Not Patent Eligible; Software Patents Still Alive

Alive_v_CLSBankThe U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Alice v. CLS Bank (June 19, 2014) touching on the patent-eligibility of software implemented inventions. The decision continues to allow patent protection for software innovation and technological solutions implemented with software. Therefore all software patents are not dead in the wake of this opinion, in fact, most survive under the USPTO’s interpretation.  However, this decision limits or eliminates, depending on the circumstances, the ability of one to obtain a patent covering a fundamental economic practice long prevalent in commerce that is merely implemented in a generic computer using generic functions without more.

The patents at issue in Alice were directed to using a computer to mitigate financial settlement risk, i.e., the risk that only one party to an agreed-upon financial exchange will satisfy …

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