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Print Article Last week the Federal Circuit reached a potentially momentous decision in Berkheimer v.
Giving hope to patentees who own computer implemented inventions, the Federal Circuit ruled that it is not always appropriate to declare the broadest independent claim to be representative, and also held that questions of fact underlying patent eligibility determinations, which make summary judgment inappropriate in at least some cases.
The case reached the Federal Circuit when appellant Steven E. The Federal Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Moore, affirmed-in-part, vacated-in-part, and remanded for further proceedings. The Federal Circuit determined that claims were invalid for indefiniteness, but that it was inappropriate for the district court to decide patent eligibility with respect to certain of the claims at issue.
The Federal Circuit did agree that claims and 9 related to an abstract idea and did not capture inventive concepts and, therefore, are ineligible. Notwithstanding, claimswere found to contain limitations directed to the arguably unconventional inventive concept described in the specification.
Ultimately, Judge Moore wrote that whether the claims cover only conventional activities requires a factual determination, which can make it impossible to conclude claims are ineligible on summary judgment i.
The system parses files into multiple objects and tags the objects to create relationships between them. The system eliminates redundant storage of common text and graphical elements, which improves operating efficiency and reduces storage costs. Independent claim 1 recites: A method of archiving an item in a computer processing system comprising: Representative Claim The first issue of interest relates to the fact that Berkheimer did not agree that claim 1 was representative of all of the claims for purposes of patent eligibility evaluation.
Nevertheless, the district court determined that Claim 1 was representative because it was the only independent claim presented. Judge Moore explained that a claim is not representative merely because it is the only independent claim. There are certain situations where courts may treat a claim as representative.
In this case, however, Berkheimer did make arguments specifically relating to the dependent claims and, therefore, he did not waive his right to challenge the patent eligibility of the dependent claims on appeal. This issue alone makes Berkheimer v.
HP very important for patent owners. Invalidity is supposed to require a claim-by-claim analysis, but all too frequently courts have select the broadest, weakest independent claim and labeled it as representative of all the claims at issue. When this happens claims are routinely declared ineligible as covering an abstract idea and not having any inventive contribution.
But if the patent owner makes arguments specifically relating to the patent eligibility of dependent claims, Berkheimer v. HP stands for the proposition that it is inappropriate to limit eligibility analysis to just an independent claim the court declares to be representative.
The clear take-away message here is that patent owners need to make patent eligibility arguments that take into account the limitations in all asserted claims, and not acquiesce to any particular claim being representative of all claims.
Alice Step 1 Under Alice Step 1 the court asks whether the claims at issue are directed to a judicial exception, which in the case of computer implemented invention implicates the abstract idea exception. The district court held that claim 1 was directed to the abstract idea of using a generic computer to organize, compare and reconcile date prior to archiving.
Furthermore, Judge Moore pointed out that Berhkeimer admitted that parsers had existed for years prior to the filing of his patent application, without explaining the importance of that concession under Alice Step 1.
Federal Circuit seemed to take this as confirmation that the parsing limitation was conventional and routine although not specifically saying that directlyperhaps bleeding conventionality under the second step of Alice into the analysis of Alice Step 1.
The Federal Circuit ultimately held that claims and 9 are directed to the abstract idea of parsing and comparing data; claim 4 is directed to the abstract idea of parsing, comparing, and storing data; and claims are directed to the abstract idea of parsing, comparing, storing, and editing data.
Thus, it was necessary to proceed to Alice step 2. Alice Step 2 At the outset of discussion of Alice step 2, the Federal Circuit pointed out that the question of whether the claim limitations involve more than the performance of well understood, routine, and conventional activities is a question of fact.
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