The U.S. Federal Circuit on October 9, 2012 granted en banc review of a case in which a Federal Circuit panel held that a claim must not be deemed inadequate under 35 U.S.C. §101 if, after taking all of the claim recitations into consideration, it is not “manifestly evident” that a claim is directed to a patent ineligible abstract idea. CLS Bank International v. Alice Corp., Fed. Cir., No. 11-1301, 10/9/2012. Alice Corp is an Australian company, suing for patent infringement in the United States.
The en banc court vacated the panel decision and requested briefing on the following questions:
- What test should the court adopt to determine whether a computer-implemented invention is a patent ineligible "abstract idea”; and when, if ever, does the presence of a computer in a claim lend patent eligibility to an otherwise patent-ineligible idea?
- In assessing patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of a computer-implemented invention, should it matter whether the invention is claimed as a method, system, or storage medium; and should such claims at times be considered equivalent for § 101 purposes?
[N]othing in the Supreme Court’s precedent, nor in ours, allows a court to go hunting for abstractions by ignoring the concrete, palpable, tangible, and otherwise not abstract invention the patentee actually claims. It is fundamentally improper to paraphrase a claim in overly simplistic generalities in assessing whether the claim falls under the limited “abstract ideas” exception to patent eligibility under 35 USC §101. Patent eligibility must be evaluated based on what the claims recite, not merely on the ideas upon which they are premised.
To read the Court’s order for en banc review, click here; to read a summary of the panel decision and obtain a copy of Judge Linn’s opinion, click here.