Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Take on Patents Pertaining to Business Methods

This intervention from CAFC can spell doom for some more patent trolls

A business PDA



Summary: Patents on tasks that can be performed using pen and paper (so-called 'business methods', just like algorithms) and oughtn't be patent-eligible may be the next casualty of the America Invents Act (AIA)

THE PAST week was an important week for the subject of patents on business methods (CBM, or covered business method), almost a sibling of software patents. There were also many articles on the subject, including this from the mainstream/corporate media (the Wall Street media in this particular case).



"They just mean to say that business method patents may be rubbish and should not be patentable in the first place."Ignore the expected bias (publication is joined/connected to big banks by the hip) and disregard the weird and almost incomprehensible headline. They just mean to say that business method patents may be rubbish and should not be patentable in the first place. To quote: "The assertion of a patent against Bank of America, GE Capital Corp. and 40 other financial institutions doesn’t make it a financial business method invention vulnerable to attack in a Patent and Trademark Office special proceeding, an appeals court said Feb. 21 ( Secure Axcess, LLC v. PNC Bank N.A. , 2017 BL 51354, Fed. Cir., No. 2016-1353, 2/21/17 )"

Also from the article: "Patent challengers like the special “covered business method” proceeding because it gives them more options to make invalidity charges, such as on whether the invention is patent-eligible. In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Apple Inc.'s argument that a CBM patent includes one whose invention is “incidental” to financial activity. The court’s 2-1 decision Feb. 21 further limited CBM to be more dependent on what, exactly, the patent holder claimed."

Michael Loney, a PTAB expert from MIP, covered it as follows, taking note of the relevance to PTAB:

The Federal Circuit has concluded “the patent at issue is outside the definition of a CBM patent that Congress provided by statute” in its Secure Axcess v PNC Bank National Association ruling. Judge Lourie wrote a dissent, backing up the PTAB’s determination

The Federal Circuit has reversed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in secure Axcess v PNC Bank Association.


WIPR's article about it was fairly detailed:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) adopted a statutory definition of covered business method (CBM) patents that went too far.

In an opinion handed down on Tuesday, February 21 in Secure Axcess v PNC Bank, the court reversed the finding that a patent owned by internet security company Secure Axcess was a CBM.

Secure Axcess challenged a final written decision of the PTAB that held that its patent was a CBM.

The dispute concerned US number 7,631,191, called “System and method for authenticating a web page”.


Now watch the following CBM review, which involves Ericsson's patent troll, Unwired Planet LLC. Law 360 had this to say about it:

Unwired Planet LLC urged the Federal Circuit on Wednesday to let stand its November decision that held the Patent Trial and Appeal Board is using an overly broad definition of what qualifies under its covered business method patent review program.

In a brief responding to Google Inc.'s request for an en banc rehearing, the company said the appeals court rightly reined in the PTAB’s authority for reviewing patents directed at financial services, arguing that Google and its tech company amici are inappropriately asking a federal appeals...


Patently-O, in the mean time, wrote about CBM reviews as follows, taking stock of AIA (which brought PTAB): "The America Invents Act created a temporary mechanism (8-year) for challenging certain “covered” business method patents. The program will sunset for new petitions in the “Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents” (“CBM review”) sunsets on September 16, 2020. The program allows for CBM patents to be challenged on any ground of patentability (e.g., Sections 101, 102, 103, and 112) and is not limited to post-AIA patents."

This has been a fantastic and very successful program. No business methods should be patentable and the CAFC has been looking into it, in effect (or potentially) axing a lot of patents that should never have been granted in the first place.

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