This section contains summaries of June 2020 decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) concerning 35 U.S.C. Section 101, which sets forth the four categories of patent-eligible subject matter: process, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. 10 Section 101 decisions were issued in June.
Ex Parte Swartz; 6/30/2020; TC 3600; Request for Rehearing. Independent claim 1 recited setting a separation distance between and an anode and a cathode to create a two-dimensional angle of a certain range. In the initial decision the Board said that under Section 101, certain claims lacked utility. In response to the Rehearing Request, the Board declined to make any changes.
Ex Parte Harmon et al; 6/30/2020; TC 3600; Real party in interest, IBM. The claimed invention related to analyzing a patient’s electronic medical records (EMRs) for re-coding purposes. Section 101 rejections affirmed.
Ex Parte Binder et al; 6/30/2020; TC 2400; Real party in interest, May Patents Ltd. The claimed invention was a device used with a single wire pair that carried Direct Current (DC) power and digital data concurrently, where the device included a splitter with three ports such that (1) a digital data signal was passed only between the first and second ports, and (2) a DC power signal was passed only between the first and third ports. The splitter’s first port was also connected to a connector for connecting to a wire pair that carried DC power and digital data concurrently. The Board said the components and their particular arrangement in claim 1 did not fall within any of the subject matter groupings under the USPTO’s Guidelines, namely (1) mathematical concepts; (2) certain methods of organizing human activity; or (3) mental processes and, therefore, did not recite an abstract idea. Section 101 rejections REVERSED.
Ex Parte Walmart et al; 6/26/2020; TC 3600; Real party in interest, Walmart, Inc. and Walmart Apollo, LLC. The claimed invention related generally to retail shopping facilities and more particularly to accommodating customers who visit the facility to pick up a previously ordered item. Section 101 rejections affirmed.
Ex Parte Smythe et al; 6/25/2020; TC 2600; Real party in interest, IBM. The claims were directed to a method and apparatus for “deriving logical justification information in an extensible logical reasoning system.” In particular, the invention implement “a logical reasoning and justification engine that operates to receive a logical parse data structure of natural language content,” “operates to receive a selection of a node in the logical parse data structure to thereby form a selected node,” executes a logical justification module on the selected node to identify “justifying nodes that provide a contribution to a knowledge state of the selected node,” generates a logical justification output based on the identified justifying nodes, and outputs the logical justification output. Section 101 rejections affirmed.
Ex Parte Allen et al; 6/25/2020; TC 2600; Real party in interest, IBM. The claimed invention related to providing a hybrid approach to handling hypothetical statements in texts. Section 101 rejections affirmed.
Ex Parte Ishikawa; 6/18/2020; TC 3600; The claimed invention “relates to valuating civil legal cases and disputes, and more particularly, to computer-implemented systems and methods for valuating civil legal cases and disputes.” Section 101 rejections affirmed.
Ex Parte Nelson; 6/17/2020; TC 3500; The claimed invention related to filtering and compressing polling data based on statistical methodology using past polling errors. Section 101 rejections affirmed.
Ex Parte Anantharam et al; 6/4/2020; TC 2400; Real party in interest, IBM. The claims were directed to extracting events and assessing their impact on a transportation network. Section 101 rejections affirmed.
Supercell OY v. Gree, Inc.; 6/2/2020; Decision on a post-grant review. The patent provided a game program with enhanced strategic gameplay in which a plurality of characters were operated with simple operation, a computer control method, and an information processing apparatus. The Board found the claims were related to patent-ineligible subject matter.