Since then, district court judges have invalidated hundreds of patents under Section of the US patent laws, finding they're nothing more than abstract ideas that didn't deserve a patent in the first place. The great majority of software patents were unable to pass the basic test outlined by the Supreme Court. At the beginning ofthe nation's top patent court had heard dozens of appeals on computer-related patents that were challenged under the Alice precedent.
Print Article This is part 6 of a multi-part series exploring the history of software patents in America. In both Ergo and Noah, the outcome rested upon whether means-plus-function claims in a software patent were indefinite and, therefore, invalid.
In both cases the claims were lost. I strongly disagreed with the rulings in Ergo, and while I would have come down differently on Noah Systems at least the Court in this case explained themselves. These cases are very important though because they give us the best glimpse yet into understanding the disclosure requirements for software patents that utilize means-plus-function claim language.
Understanding this particular aspect of patent drafting may be crucial moving forward given that some believe that means-plus-function claiming may be one way to get at least some patent claim coverage in the wake of Alice.
Therefore, given that the extraordinarily strict disclosure requirements mandated by employing means-plus-function claiming, this technique may well be the future for software patents. Certainly adhering to the extreme disclosure requirements in the Algorithm cases will be a best practice moving forward even if you do not employ means-plus-function claiming, and it will likely remain a best practice until some statutory or common law relief from Alice is achieved.
The appeal in Noah arose out of an action brought by Noah against Intuit for infringement of the U. The system allows a business or individual to connect to the computers of companies with which that entity conducts business so that information regarding financial transactions can be transmitted between them.
The parties agreed that this is a means-plus-function limitation performed by a processor. Ultimately, the Federal Circuit would determine that the algorithm disclosed was incomplete. This lead the Court to explain that when the specification discloses an algorithm that only accomplishes one of multiple identifiable functions performed by a means-plus-function limitation, the specification is treated as if it disclosed no algorithm.
Indeed, an incomplete algorithm means no algorithm at all, which means that what one of ordinary skill in the art would understand from the disclosure is no longer relevant. Representative independent claim 12 recites: A financial accounting system for a first entity such as an individual or a business, said system comprising: This determination lead to a decision rendering all of the asserted claims indefinite because they lacked the required corresponding structure.
Accordingly, the district court entered summary judgment of invalidity in favor of Intuit. Ultimately the Federal Circuit would find that the district court erred in determining that no algorithm was present, because at least a partial algorithm was present, but did not disturb the ruling because of the determination that a partial algorithm is as good as no algorithm at all for purpose of interpreting means-plus-function claims in a software patent.
On appeal, Noah raised two different, albeit closely related, arguments. Noah argued that the district court erred when it: The Federal Circuit pointed out that means-plus-function claiming involves a quid pro quo. In exchange for being able to draft a claim limitation in purely functional language, the applicant must describe in the patent specification some structure that performs the specified function.
Importantly, the functional claim language covers only the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof, which confines the breadth of protection otherwise seemingly provided by purely functional claiming. The Federal Circuit also acknowledged that it is undisputed that the question of whether a claim is indefinite is based on how the claim limitation would be understood by one of skill in the art.
The Court went on to say, however, that the testimony of one of ordinary skill in the art cannot supplant the total absence of structure from the specification.Golden Rice an update by Adrian Dubock, Executive Secretary, Golden Rice Humanitarian Board.
In early , the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines became the first licensee of Professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer for what became known as Golden Rice. For a list of patent law cases in just the United States, see United States patent law cases A. Aerotel v Canada (Commissioner of Patents): patent of higher lifeforms (CA, ) Honeywell v.
Sperry Rand (US, ) Hotchkiss v. Greenwood (US, ).
In the patent law world, that could signify better quality patents with everyone respecting them, resolving any minor disagreements by ADR, and filing zero infringement cases. However, the present situation suggests something else is afoot. These cases are very important though because they give us the best glimpse yet into understanding the disclosure requirements for software patents that utilize means-plus-function claim language.
Important Patent Case Law Decisions BitLaw contains hypertext versions of the most important recent court cases dealing with Patent law.
This document contains a brief summary of the recent cases, and links to those cases that have been added to BitLaw.
The Ten Most Important Patent Cases. Published on March 20, ; These two cases consider the limitations of the public use and the on .