Fenwick & West LLP

In April, Senators Coons and Tillis proposed a draft framework for legislation reformulating the standards for determining patent eligibility under § 101 of the Patent Act. The framework largely codified the Patent Office’s latest internal eligibility standards that went into place in January 2019, formulating a closed list of categories excluded from patent eligibility and creating a “practical exception” test to ensure that such categories are construed narrowly. On May 22, Senators Coons and Tillis…
In January, the USPTO announced it would seek comments on the new Guidance it had published on patent subject matter eligibility. We have previously discussed this Guidance and won’t repeat ourselves here. Instead, this post will highlight the wide range of views expressed by the thousands of comments that the USPTO received. Although the comment period ended on March 8, the USPTO cautioned that its web page posting the comments might not be complete for…
As my prior post on the 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance indicated, I initially anticipated only a modest uptick in allowability rates as a result of the new guidance.  After analyzing the accompanying examples, however, I concluded that the effect would likely be markedly more profound.  Subsequent conversations with examiners—many of whom have now agreed to drop their long-standing eligibility rejections—have only confirmed that belief. The examples provide analyses of 10 claims…
[This post was updated on Jan. 17, 2019] On Jan. 4, the Patent Office released the long-awaited 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance, which governs the Office’s examination procedure for evaluation of patent subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The new guidance distinctly changes the tone of § 101 discourse to one more in favor of eligibility than in years past.  In the same way that the tone of prior Office…
Much ink has been spilled in recent times on the standards for, and outcomes of, patent eligibility questions under § 101.  Consider, for example, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu’s remarks in September about providing additional guidance to Patent Office examiners, and various analyses of invalidation rates in the federal courts. (We touched on invalidation rates ourselves in our Bilski Blog update in August, at which time the Federal Circuit’s cumulative invalidation rate since July 2014 was…
Since our last update in June 2017, all the invalidation averages for decisions finding lack of subject matter eligibility have trended slightly downward in the federal courts. Specifically: The overall percentage of decisions invalidating patents under § 101 since we started tracking statistics in July 2014 has fallen slightly—from 67.5% to 66.0%—year over year. The 12-month and three-month average invalidation rates have likewise fallen (from 64.7% to 61.9%, and from 72.1% to 48.4%, respectively).…