Archive | Patent Appeals

“Substantially” is a Definite Term in Recent PTAB Decisions

Many practitioners view words of approximation, such as “substantially,” as useful tools to broaden claim language. MPEP §2173.05(b) states that words of approximation are acceptable if one of ordinary skill in the art would understand what is claimed, in light of the specification. In fact, MPEP §2173.05(b)III discusses the acceptable use of various words of […]

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PTAB: Social Media Privacy Management Is Patent-Eligible

Claims to managing privacy in a social network survive the Mayo/Alice patent-eligibility test, says the PTAB, reversing an Examiner’s rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  Ex parte Drake Sutton-Shearer, Appeal 2015-003977, Application 12/770,4711, Technology Center 3600 (PTAB Feb. 28, 2017).  Citing Federal Circuit decisions in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp. and Affinity Labs of Tex., […]

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PTAB Panel Can’t Agree on Patent-Eligibility

Lest anyone think that patent-eligibility determinations at the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) are easy, even in appeals in ex parte patent prosecution, consider the recent case of Ex parte Plondke, Appeal 2016-006905, Application 13/241,673 (PTAB April 3, 2017).  The claims at issue were directed to data processing software patents, specifically to an […]

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Arguments of Impermissible Change in the Principle of Operation in Ex Parte PTAB Decisions

In roughly the last month, the PTAB has decided 41 ex parte appeals involving arguments that the proposed modification in an obviousness rejection impermissibly changes the principle of operation of the primary reference. By way of background, this type of argument, including caselaw, is outlined in MPEP §2143.01 IV. Of the 41 recent decisions, only […]

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PTAB: BRI of Method Claim Requires Conditional Limitation

Thirty-five PTAB decisions cite Ex parte Schulhauser since that case was designated precedential in October 2016.  Of those thirty-five decisions, all except for one held that the broadest reasonable interpretation of a method claim does not require conditional limitations.  The one exception is Ex parte Hehenberger, Appeal No. 2015-007421 (Jan. 31, 2016). By way of […]

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Patent-Eligibility at the PTAB in Ex Parte Appeals

Far from finding relief from an examiner’s patent-ineligibility rejection at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), patent applicants may find that ex parte appeals are their undoing.  A recent decision in an appeal filed in 2012, reversing an examiner’s prior art rejections under 35 U.S.C. § 103(a), but setting forth a new ground of […]

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The PTAB Can Be Aggressive in Raising Patent-Eligibility Under Alice

Entering a new ground of rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, deciding an ex parte appeal, applied Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l. to hold that claims directed to a system and method for “propagating a media item recommendation” were not patent-eligible. Ex parte Svendsen, Appeal 2012-010845; […]

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