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01.27.18

Somebody Should Explain to the Federal Circuit That GUIs are Not Inventions Because PTAB Already Knows It

Posted in America, Patents at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The innovative nature typically just boils down to hardware acceleration and CPU/GPU capacity (physical)

History of the graphical user interface
Reference: History of the graphical user interface

Summary: While the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) rejects a GUI patent, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) tolerates one, necessitating a deeper technical understanding of why user interfaces aren’t inventions at all

YESTERDAY we wrote about the disaster which is patents on GUIs. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) was responsible for this travesty after the USPTO had granted the patent. Developers generally rely on copyright for code and GUIs are often designed to accommodate users’ familiarity; there’s no need for patents there as patents in this domain would harm both users and developers. GUIs are a design ‘thing’; several months ago [1, 2] we wrote about why designs too should be covered by something like “registered design”, not patents. There are trademarks too, among other things.

Yesterday, Barker Brettell LLP said: “All of these methods of engaging customers will have various electronic user interfaces.”

But don’t grant patents on user interfaces; that would have devastating effects on the whole profession. Not just on physical interfaces but also computer interfaces (rendered on a screen).

It’s worrying to see the patent bar lowered to the point where the layout of buttons is considered an ‘invention’.

Not everyone is easily fooled by this; the technical judges at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), for example, say “no” to patents on GUIs. Here’s a new example:

Earlier this week, the company filed another appeal against a Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruling over one of its GUI patents.

Appeals to CAFC? Section 101 may not be most suitable for dealing with it; common sense, however, ought to tell judges that layout of buttons is mostly certainly not inventive.

The terrible decision from CAFC is still widely celebrated by shouting (ALL CAPS) patent extremists; it’s a disaster to be celebrated by the patent microcosm because this signals to them a ‘softening’ CAFC. Here is what their biggest press outlet wrote two days ago

For the second time this month, the Federal Circuit has sided with patent owners on the issue of patent eligibility under Section 101. Russ August & Kabat partner Benjamin Wang had the winning argument for Core Wireless.

But they misrepresent it somewhat; in one case it was a patent troll seeing all of its patents except one being thrown away; in the second case (GUIs) Section 101 is not even most suitable a test. What the defendant’s strategy ought to have been is, explain to these nontechnical judges that GUIs are not inventions. Because they’re not. Xerox would claim otherwise, having serially bullied companies using patents (e.g. Palm) or passed patents for trolls to do this to Linux (Red Hat and Novell a decade ago).

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