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Ryan N. Phelan is a registered patent attorney who counsels and works with clients in intellectual property (IP) matters, with a focus on patents.  As a former technology consultant with Accenture and with a background in computer science and engineering, Ryan has extensive experience in computer system and software design, engineering, development and related technologies.  He has represented numerous Fortune 500 clients with patent matters in technical areas including electrical and software engineering, internet and e-commerce, computer networking, encryption and security, finance, insurance, consumer electronics, and mobile and telecommunications. Read full bio here.

PTAB Concludes Artificial Intelligence Medical Device Patent Is Not Obvious
PTAB Concludes Artificial Intelligence Medical Device Patent Is Not Obvious

Artificial Intelligence (AI) typically involves certain common aspects. This includes, for example, training data, AI training algorithm(s) that use the training data to train an AI model, and predictions and/or classifications as output from the trained AI model. Could a person of ordinary skill in the art (e.g., a computer scientist) find it obvious to combine these common aspects to arrive at any given AI-based invention? The Patent Trial and Appeal Board recently answered “no” in its final written decision in Intel Corporation v. Health Discovery Corporation, IPR2021-00552, Paper No. 38 (September 12, 2022).
Continue Reading PTAB Concludes Artificial Intelligence Medical Device Patent Is Not Obvious

In Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics USA, Appeal No. 19-1835 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 30, 2020), the Federal Circuit reaffirmed that software inventions are patentable in the U.S. with a bright-line statement: “Our precedent is clear that software can make patent-eligible improvements to computer technology, and related claims are eligible as long as they are directed to non-abstract improvements to the functionality of a computer or network platform itself.”
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Reaffirms that Software is Patent Eligible

PTABWatch Takeaway: In mid-October 2019, the Patent Office updated its subject matter eligibility guidance published in January 2019. The update does not change the guidance, but simply offers clarifications invited by public responses to the January guidance.

On October 17, 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a 22-page an Update (“October PEG Update”) to its 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (“2019 PEG”).
Continue Reading Highlights of the U.S. Patent Office’s Update to its 2019 Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance

PTABWatch Takeaway: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) designated as “informative” four decisions applying the Patent Office’s 2019 patent eligibility guidance (PEG) regarding 35 U.S.C. § 101. While the decisions are not binding on future PTAB panels, the decisions provide useful insights into how the PTAB may approach issues of patent eligibility on ex parte appeal, and what type of claims are likely to be found patent-eligible.

An overview of the PEG, including a description of how to analyze abstract ideas under the Patent Office’s newly revised step 2A, may be found in our previous posting titled How the PTAB Reviews Software Inventions Under the 2019 Revised Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance.
Continue Reading Four Decisions to Know regarding the PTAB’s Treatment of the new 2019 Patent Eligibility Guidelines

PTABWatch Takeaway: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance provides a useful, and effective, tool for demonstrating patent eligibility of software-related inventions. While the 2019 Guidance acts as persuasive authority only, the PTAB has relied on the 2019 Guidance as a rubric in numerous cases to analyze, and find patent eligible, software-related inventions. Practitioners and inventors seeking to overcome, or avoid, patent eligibility issues under Section 101 would do well to draft or amend claims in view of the 2019 Guidance.
Continue Reading How the PTAB Reviews Software Inventions Under the 2019 Revised Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance

On June 7, 2018, the Federal Circuit in Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp. requested that intervenor, Patent Office director Andrei Iancu, and appellee Broadcom, file a response to Wi-Fi One’s second petition for rehearing.  Wi-Fi One, Case No. 2015-1944, Docket No. 212 (June 7, 2018).  At issue was whether the court should grant Wi-Fi One’s second petition for panel or en banc rehearing regarding 35 U.S.C. § 315 (b) time-bar challenges.  See Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp., Case No. 2015-1944, Doc. No. 210 (May 21, 2018).
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Requests Briefing from Patent Office Regarding § 315(b) Time-Bar Determinations

Update: On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a decision, 6-3, reversing the Federal Circuit’s judgment and remanding the case for further proceedings. The Court held that “a federal agency is not a ‘person’ who may petition for post-issuance review under the AIA.” On August 9, 2019, the Federal Circuit issued an order vacating the PTAB’s decision and remanding with instructions that the PTAB dismiss the CBM proceeding for lack of jurisdiction.

PTABWatch Takeaway: When “sued for infringement” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a), the United States has standing to petition the Patent Office to institute Covered Business Method (CBM) review.  Return Mail v. U.S. Postal Service, Appeal 2016-1502 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 28, 2017)

Background

Patentee, Return Mail, Inc., filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Court alleging that the United States, through the actions of the United States Postal Service, used without license the subject matter claimed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,826,548.
Continue Reading The United States Can Have Standing in AIA Proceedings

PTABWatch Takeaway: Claims that recite the term “means” may trigger the means-plus-function presumption under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 6 (Section 112(f) of the AIA), but the presumption can be overcome where: (1) the means term itself recites structure; (2) that structure is “common parlance” to those of ordinary skill in the art; and (3) the claim does not recite any function for the means term to perform.

In Skky, Inv. v. MindGeek, SARL, Appeal 16-2018 (Fed. Cir. June 7, 2017), the Federal Circuit upheld the PTAB’s decision that the claim term “wireless device means” of U.S. Patent 7,548,875 (the “’875 patent”) was not a means-plus-function term pursuant to Section 112 ¶ 6.Continue Reading How to Overcome a Section 112 ¶ 6 Means-Plus-Function Presumption

Introduction of Panelists and summary of Session

Technology concept presented by a researcher on a digital screen

Early March 2017 kicked off the PTAB Bar Association’s Inaugural Conference in Washington, D.C.  I had the privilege of attending several sessions, one of which was “View from the Tech Industry,” which included panelists from the Tech Industry who commonly practice before the PTAB in either petitioner or patent owner roles. Representatives of Google and Microsoft presented petitioner views.  Representatives from Personalized Media Communications, LLC, and Trading Technologies International, Inc., presented patent owner views.

The Tech Industry panelists debated the current state of AIA proceedings, expressing their views on AIA jurisprudence, mechanics of AIA proceedings, and strategies vis-à-vis co-pending district court litigation. 
Continue Reading Tech Industry Debates AIA Proceedings at Inaugural PTAB Conference

"Gavel on copy of escrow agreement, soft shadow. White background, soft shadow. Gavel has seen much use. Please see more gavel photos:"An updated discussion of this issue is available here: PTAB’s Time Bar Determinations Are Reviewable by the Federal Circuit

As we had predicted in a previous post, the Federal Circuit, on January 4, 2017, granted patent owner Wi-Fi One LLC’s petitions for rehearing en banc regarding the interpretation of, and interplay between, 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) (the No Appeal provision) and § 315(b) (the Time Bar provision).  A few months ago, we wrote about the related decision Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp., Appeal 2015-1944 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 16, 2016), which the court’s order vacates:

In Wi­Fi, the patent owner (Wi­Fi One, LLC) argued that the IPR petitioner (Broadcom Corporation) was in privity with entities accused (and eventually adjudged) in parallel district court litigation of infringing the challenged patent. Those entities, the patent owner argued, would have been time­barred from seeking IPR under 35 USC § 315(b).
Continue Reading Federal Circuit to take AIA Time Bar issue En Banc