Proposed Framework Isn’t Just About Fixing 101

Since Wednesday’s release of a proposed 101 framework, some have mistakenly dismissed its legislative viability as failing to account for the interests of Big Tech — nothing could be further from the truth.

The proposal is the result of months of negotiations with the major patent stakeholders, most notably the Bio/Pharma and Tech lobbies. While the Bio/Pharma side would greatly benefit from a broadening of patent eligibility (such as proposed) to more readily secure patent protection for technologies such as medical diagnostics, the Tech Lobby has largely opposed such as it leverages 101 to fight back against abstract patent claims. To bridge this divide, the framework presents a narrowing provision that will primarily impact the claim scope of patents asserted against Tech.
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Senate/House Outline Follows USPTO’s Top-Down Approach

The USPTO released Revised Guidance on Patent Eligibility Under 35 U.S.C. § 101 back in January. The Guidelines simplified the case law by presenting a top-down approach to distill the morass of case law on abstract ideas into a list of exempted categories.

Under its new Guidleines, if a patented claim was not directed to an exempt category, the the claims passed muster. If the claim is directed to an enumerated category, a practical application analysis is then performed, and if satisfied, the claims still pass 101 scrutiny. The result is a more patent friendly, and manageable analysis….at least at the USPTO.

Since introduction of the Guidelines, however, the Courts have declined to show them deference. Yet, Congress appears poised to enact legislation to forcibly align the Courts with the agency 101 Guidelines.
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Leveraging PTAB 101 Determinations in Parallel Litigation

Covered Business Method (CBM) challenges have fallen out of favor with petitioners. This is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the narrowing of CBM jurisdiction after Unwired Planet. Of course, this 101 challenge option will go away shortly as CBM will sunset in 2020. But, as more patents become eligible for Post Grant Review (PGR), the ability to challenge patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is slowly expanding to all patents.

Given the expanding option to file a PGR to challenge patent eligibility under 101 alongside art-based challenges, is it better to do so (if possible within the 9-month PGR window), or to simply wait out the 9-month window for Inter Partes Review (IPR)?

While 101 challenges can be especially lethal post-Alice, parallel tracking your 101 case at the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) is not without its risks.
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