07.15.18

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Asking the USPTO to Comply With 35 U.S.C. § 101 is Like Asking Pentagon Officials to Pursue Real, Persistent Peace

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 1:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Michael Frakes and Melissa Wasserman Complain About Low Patent Quality While Watchtroll Lobbies to Lower It Further

What bombs do
These cost $132,000 each about 60 years ago (more than $3 million by today’s money)

Summary: Some profit from selling weapons, whereas others profit from patent grants and litigation; what’s really needed right now is patent sanity and adherence to the public interest as well as the law itself, e.g. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions

THE SCOTUS ruling on Alice more than 4 years ago ought to have sufficed. It ought to have stopped software patent grants in the US. Sadly, however, parties often need to appeal to the Federal Circuit (very expensive) in order for such patents to be intercepted; sometimes a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes review (IPR) would suffice, but not always. Then there are overzealous courts like the tribunal of ITC, which impose sanctions even in defiance of PTAB. For small businesses in particular, PTAB is all they can afford. Embargoes to them may mean life or death. They may declare bankruptcy overnight.

“Then there are overzealous courts like the tribunal of ITC, which impose sanctions even in defiance of PTAB.”In spite of Mayo, another SCOTUS decision that shaped 35 U.S.C. § 101, the USPTO is still granting patents on life itself (the EPO increasingly does this too, in arrogant defiance of the EPC). Here is a press release that is only a few days old:

Inscripta Granted Patents for CRISPR Gene-Editing Systems

Inscripta, a leading gene-editing technology company, today announced two significant milestones. First, the USPTO granted Inscripta its first patent covering systems using MAD7, the company’s first free CRISPR enzyme, as well as patent coverage for systems using another MADzyme, MAD2. Second, Inscripta released new data run by external partners showing MAD7 can edit mammalian cells.

“Today marks a major step forward in the gene-editing revolution we started seven months ago when we released our own, unique CRISPR enzyme (MAD7),” said Kevin Ness, CEO of Inscripta. “We and our partners have shown that MAD7 is an effective tool in editing microbial and mammalian cells. All researchers, both academics and industrial scientists alike, can use MAD7 confidently, and Inscripta is committed to providing a license to its related patents for customers to perform free research and development using the enzyme.”

Why was this granted? Need someone petition PTAB now (IPR)? Does someone have the financial incentive to do so? We sure hope so. Otherwise we need to wait for some court battle, knowing that Inscripta might prey on small companies that simply cannot afford court battles (and would rather shell out ‘protection money’). This kind of patent would do no good; if facilitates nothing except shakedown (a form of extortion) or patently frivolous litigation. The US does not, in principle, allow CRISPR monopolies. There are SCOTUS precedents to that effect.

“This kind of patent would do no good; if facilitates nothing except shakedown (a form of extortion) or patently frivolous litigation.”Cellspin Soft, Inc. v Fitbit, a case that we mentioned days ago in this post, is now being covered by Michael Borella (McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP) in Patent Docs (reposted here, maybe for a fee so as to appear more widely). Here’s the part relevant to 35 U.S.C. § 101 although the more interesting angle is the possibility that the plaintiff will get punished for frivolous litigation. Quoting Borella:

Cellspin sued Fitbit and thirteen other defendants in the Northern District of California alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,738,794, 8,892,752, 9,749,847, and 9,258,698. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, alleging invalidity of the patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

As we said some days ago (for the second time), we hope this case can become a deterrent against frivolous litigation in the US, but we can’t quite count on it. Many courts, especially the lower ones, don’t pursue fact-finding. Instead they let juries decide. It’s pretty silly to do patent trials by jury, for reasons we’ve explained many times before (many in the jury are incapable of understanding the technical details inside patent claims), yet here we are in Mass Engineered Design, Inc. v Planar Systems, Inc. — the case which now potentially deals with treble ‘damages’ over alleged infringement. As Docket Navigator put it yesterday:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion in limine under FRE 403 to preclude defendant from telling the jury that damages could be enhanced or trebled at a willfulness retrial and rejected defendant’s argument that its supplier’s indemnification agreement should similarly be excluded.

What does the jury know? These aren’t professionals in the said field? It’s understandable that juries can decide cases like homicide or drug sale/use, but patents? Seriously?

“If the ultimate goal is justice rather than profit, then the status quo is “unfit for purpose” (i.e. not good enough) and always favours deep-pocketed corporations as well as law firms.”In another new development, in Shire LLC et al v Abhai LLC, “[t]The court granted in part plaintiffs’ motion for discovery sanctions and sanctioned defendant $1.5 million after defendant disclosed corrected stability dissolution testing data during a bench trial,” according to this new Docket Report.

The way things stand at the moment — and we shall elaborate on that later in the week — patent justice isn’t easy to find in the US. The law is still dominated by law firms (they write the law by lobbying/lobbyists) and patent examiners are better rewarded for granting a lot of patents rather than rejecting most. If the ultimate goal is justice rather than profit, then the status quo is “unfit for purpose” (i.e. not good enough) and always favours deep-pocketed corporations as well as law firms. The latter want eternal war.

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