Earlier today, the Supreme Court granted cert in Bilski, the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision limiting the patentability of business method and software patents. Many commentators are predicting that the Supreme Court will further restrict business method and software claims through the machine or transformation test, although it is hard to imagine that either type of claim will be completely eliminated. Of course, the Supreme Court could also move the law back toward the State Street decision allowing business methods and software to be patented more freely. The questions presented are:
Whether the Federal Circuit erred by holding that a “process” must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing (“machine-or-transformation” test), to be eligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. § 101, despite this Court’s precedent declining to limit the broad statutory grant of patent eligibility for “any” new and useful process beyond excluding patents for “laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas.”
Whether the Federal Circuit’s “machine-or-transformation” test for patent eligibility, which effectively forecloses meaningful patent protection to many business methods, contradicts the clear Congressional intent that patents protect “method[s] of doing or conducting business.” 35 U.S.C. § 273.
For more takes on the cert decision and its implications, check out:
271 Patent Blog;
IPWatchdog;
Patently-O;
SCOTUS Blog; and
WSJ Law Blog.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Grants Cert in BIlski

Here are a few stories that do not warrant a full post:
* The mainstream media and the blogosphere are buzzing with predictions of who is on President Obama’s shortlist for replacing Justice Souter The Northern District’s Judge Castillo and the Seventh Circuit’s Judge Wood are both making many of the lists — check out one list at the Daily Writ. Both excellent choices. Over the weekend, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about a local expectation that someone connected to the University of Chicago would be appointed to the Supreme Court during the Obama presidency. I also wonder if the Northern District’s Judge St. Eve is or should be on some shortlists.
* Ronald Slusky is bringing his two-day patent claim drafting seminar to Chicago May 19-20. Slusky promises to teach “a comprehensive approach to analyzing inventions and capturing them in a sophisticated set of patent claims. Through this interactive seminar, participants will enhance their skills in a classroom setting.” I have not attended Slusky’s seminar myself, so I cannot speak to its value, but it definitely looks interesting.
* Last week the House held hearings about the Patent Reform Act. Check out some commentary on the hearings at Patently-O.
* I got out of the habit of posting each week’s Blawg Review, but last week’s was both too good and too unique to pass up. Blawg Review #209 is up at John Hochfelder’s New York Injury Cases Blog (another LexBlog site) — read it here. Hochfelder tells the moving story of his father’s life, the life of an American hero. Blawg Review #210 is also available at the China Law Blog — click here to read it. It is also an excellent Review based loosely on the 90th anniversary of China’s May 4th Movement.

Continue Reading Patent News: Patent Reform & Supreme Court Shortlist

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has issued its 2008 annually report* analyzing the federal court case load for fiscal year 2008. The Northern District of Illinois remains an important IP court, ranking fourth in IP case filings for 2008, with 385 cases filed, behind the Central District of California, the Southern District of New York and the Northern District of California.
Nationwide, patent and trademark case filings remained steady with only slight increases, but copyright case filings fell over 25%. One other interesting note, almost four percent of patent cases terminated in 2008 went through a trial. That is a relatively large amount of trials in the federal courts where an average of 1% of cases are tried. The 3% difference is not enough to show a post-eBay trend of increasing trials, but it could be the beginning of such a trend.
For more analysis of the report check out Peter Zura’s 271 Patent Blog and Patently-O.
* Click here to read the report.

Continue Reading Northern District of Illinois Continues as a Top IP Court

The legal blogosphere is full of analysis and commentary regarding the Patent Reform Act, here is more of the best:
FileWrapper;
Patent Baristas (surveying industry responses to the Act);
Patent Docs (discussing the witness list for Patent Reform Act hearings);
Patently-O (damages provisions analysis), and here and here;
Washington State Patent Law Blog.
And the Bilski amicus briefs began coming into the Supreme Court today. Click here for Dennis Crouch’s post with links to many of the amicus briefs. And here for Crouch’s post discussing the PTO’s Bilski guidance to Examiners.

Continue Reading Patent News: Patent Reform & Bilski

As promised, the new Patent Reform Acts were introduced in Congress this week — click here for the Senate bill and here for the House bill. While I have not yet done a comprehensive review, I understand that the bills are largely similar. Here are some highlights of the bills:
They move from the current first to invent system to the international norm, first to file.
Expanded reexamination and a new period of post-grant review.
Damages provisions require that the specific contribution over the prior art be considered and allow consideration of licensing terms for similar noninfringing substitutes. As Dennis Crouch points out, for alternatives in the public domain the comparable license could be free.
Specifically allows for Federal Circuit jurisdiction of interlocutory claim construction appeals where the district court approves the appeal.
Federal Circuit judges would no longer be required to live within fifty miles of the District of Columbia.
The venue provisions are changed to narrow possible venues.
There is plenty of commentary in the blogosphere. Here are some of the best:
271 Patent Blog (giving highlights, noting changes from the last version and do not miss Peter Zura’s blog makeover);
Patent Docs (discussing the Senate press conference announcing the Senate bill and noting BIO’s response to the bills); and
Patently-O (giving highlights and noting changes from the most recent attempted reforms) and here (reposting comments from Google’s Head of Patents and Patent Strategy, Michelle Lee).

Continue Reading Patent Reform Act of 2009

IPWatchdog Gene Quinn recently published his list of the top 26 patent blogs, based upon Technorati rankings (Quinn only considered blogs in the top 1M of the Technorati rankings) — click here to read Quinn’s post. Quinn manually determined which blogs counted as patent blogs, and did nice work. Although I would add the IP ADR Blog to the list. While I do not place much weight in blog rangings, the list identified a few new blogs that I plan to follow, and it is gratifying to see that the Chicago IP Litigation Blog has a strong reader base in the patent world.
Here are Quinn’s rankings:
Patently-O – Technorati Rank 21,202
Patent Baristas – Technorati Rank 61,134
IPWatchdog – Technorati Rank 80,245
Against Monopoly – Technorati Rank 80,245
Patently Silly – Technorati Rank 90,082
Chicago IP Litigation Blog – Technorati Rank 117,073
PHOSITA – Technorati Rank 101,726
Spicy IP – Technorati Rank 129,347
PLI Patent Practice Center – Technorati Rank 132,753
Duncan Bucknell Company’s IP Think Tank – Technorati Rank 136,348
Patent Prospector – Technorati Rank 152,448
Securing Innovation – Technorati Rank 162,007
Peter Zura’s 271 Patent Blog – Technorati Rank 163,794
The Invent Blog- Technorati Rank 167,214
Promote the Progress – Technorati Rank 198,166
I/P Updates- Technorati Rank 213,371
IP NewsFlash- Technorati Rank 221,777
Orange Book Blog – Technorati Rank 221,777
The IP Factor – Technorati Rank 250,588
Philip Brook’s Patent Infringement Updates- Technorati Rank 273,434
Patent Docs – Technorati Rank 300,413
Antiticpate This! – Technorati Rank 351,677
Patent Fools (now operated by IPWatchdog.com) – Technorati Rank 351,092
Patentably Defined – Technorati Rank 614,978
Steve van Dulke’s Patent Blog – Technorati Rank 676,101
IP Spotlight – Technorati Rank 752,199

Continue Reading Most Read Patent Blogs

Here are several Northern District and IP news stories that did not warrant separate posts:
The Northern District’s new Rockford courthouse is being named for retired Judge Roszkowski. Judge Roszkowski was the first federal judge permanently seated in Rockford and served for over twenty years.
Blawg Review #198 is up at the East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Blog (click here to read it). As you might expect based upon the blog’s subject matter, there is not a lot of IP content. But there are several Illinois-specific stories that Blog readers may find interesting. For example, My Law Life warns that an Illinois statute makes it illegal to jog (or walk) on Illinois roadways where sidewalks are available — click here to read the post.
Several blogs are reporting that patent reform may be back on in Congress this year: Patently-O; and 271 Patent Blog.

Continue Reading Northern District IP News

Yesterday, President Obama announced that he was appointing Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) to become the next Secretary of Commerce, a significant position in the intellectual property world. As Secretary of Commerce, Gregg will oversee the PTO and have a strong voice in any patent reform that might occur while he is Secretary. The blogosphere and mainstream media are slowly providing background regarding Gregg:*
Patently-O
Peter Zura’s 271 Patent Blog (highlighting this Congressional Quarterly article which points out that Gregg once voted to abolish the Department of Commerce).
Washington Post’s 44 Blog.
* I will update this post with more links if I see anything especially valuable.

Continue Reading Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) Nominated Commerce Secretary

Here are several blog posts that are worth your time on this Monday morning:
* At Deliberations, Anne Reed warns of six mistakes that can derail voir dire — click here to read the post. Anyone who follows Deliberations knows that when Reed discusses voir dire, everyone should listen.
* The Federal Circuit heard oral argument in Tafas v. Dudas last week. Here is some of the commentary: Patent Baristas; Patently-O; PLI Blog;
* At IP ADR Blog, Victoria Pynchon offers to arbitrate your patent case and says under expedited AAA commercial rules you can get a decision within 45 days of selecting the arbitrator — click here to read the post. Amazing, I may try that in the dispute resolution clause of my next license agreement.
* Anyone who read his 2007 NYC Marathon Blawg Review will not be surprised that Eric Turkewitz’s post-Thanksgiving Blawg Review last week at his New York Personal Injury Law Blog was one of the best of the year — click here to read it.

Continue Reading IP Legal News

Time has published a list of 2008’s best inventions — click here to read it. Here are a couple of inventions with Chicago connections:
* 12. MacroMarkets — MacroMarkets was instrumental in starting housing futures trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the Chicago connection). Now MacroMarkets is working on exchange-traded funds that allow regular investors to bet on housing futures.
* 23. The Branded Candidate — This invention is actually about a trademark and a brand. Chicago’s own President-elect Obama created a marketing sensation with his branding this year. Here is how Time describes it:
Barack Obama hat: $15. Barack Obama special-edition Beyoncé T shirt: $60. Devising a system to make and sell your own swag and garner millions in profits, not to mention the phone numbers and addresses of hundreds of thousands of potential volunteers? Priceless.
Hat tip to Dennis Crouch who identified Time’s list at Patently-O.

Continue Reading Time’s 2008 Inventions of the Year: Chicago Connections