Bye Bye Business Methods? The CAFC decided, sua sponte, to order an en banc rehearing of In Re Bilski. The following 5 questions were presented:
See more details over at Patently-O (link), along with related briefing on similar matter in the Metabolite v. LabCorp case (link1, link2, link 3)
1. Whether claim 1 of the 08/833,892 patent application claims patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101?
2. What standard should govern in determining whether a process is patent-eligible subject matter under section 101?
3. Whether the claimed subject matter is not patent-eligible because it constitutes an abstract idea or mental process; when does a claim that contains both mental and physical steps create patent-eligible subject matter?
4. Whether a method or process must result in a physical transformation of an article or be tied to a machine to be patent-eligible subject matter under section 101?
5. Whether it is appropriate to reconsider State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Financial Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998), and AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications, Inc., 172 F.3d 1352 (Fed. Cir. 1999), in this case and, if so, whether those cases should be overruled in any respect?
Chief Judge Michel Weighs In (Again) On Patent Reform: Chief Judge Michel gave the keynote speech at the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel on January 28, 2008. The following is an excerpt of the address:
When I joined the court almost 20 years ago, 90 percent of our cases were from completed trials, bench trial or jury trial. Now, today, between 70 and 80 percent of our cases are from summary judgments. So we already have a huge number of interlocutory [appeals], i.e., pretrial appeals where the critical issue is claim construction. So the question becomes, well, do we need a lot more of those? Are we missing a large portion of the cases in which the claim construction is so decisive that we better have an immediate appellate review of the district judge’s construction? Well, maybe so but it’s not obvious to me that it’s the case and the [Senate] report, at least as I read it, doesn’t make much of a case, and it certainly shows no awareness at all of the fact that the vast majority of our appeals are pretrial appeals and do turn on claim construction.Read the entire transcript here (link).
PTO Releases Prior Copies of MPEP: On February 7, the PTO announced that all prior editions and revisions of the MPEP are available in PDF format on the MPEP webpage (link). An interesting quote from the original 1949 MPEP (section 3) :
An art, process or method is a mode of treatment of certain materials to produce a given result. It is an act, or a series of acts, performed upon the subject matter to be transformed an reduced to a different state of thing. Cochrane v. Deener, 1877 C.D. 242. A method which produces an intangible result, such as transmitting speech by a telephone comes within this definition also.
PTO Updates Declaration Docs and Other Forms: On February 13, the USPTO has modified its Declaration form (PTO/SB/01) to include a checkbox which provides the applicant with the option to preauthorize the EPO and JPO to access its US application(s) [in order to obtain priority documents]. Essentially, this updated Declaration form bypasses the need to file a separate form PTO/SB/39, "Authorization to Permit Access to Application by Participating Offices." See other form updates here, courtesy of I/P Updates.
CBO Estimates Cost of Patent Reform: On February 15, the CBO estimated the costs of enacting S. 1145:
CBO estimates that enacting the bill would increase direct spending by $26.9 billion and revenues by $25.5 billion over the 2009-2018 period. Much of that change would result from making permanent PTO’s authority to collect and spend certain fees, thus shifting the collections and spending out of PTO’s appropriation account. In total, those changes would increase budget deficits (or decrease surpluses) by $1.4 billion over the 2009-2018 period.
View the entire report here (link)