December 13, 2019

Federal Circuit: Complexity Does Not Necessarily Impart Section 101 Patentability

Holland & Knight Section 101 Blog
Anthony J. Fuga
Section 101 Blog

Earlier this week, the Federal Circuit reviewed a PTAB affirming the examiner’s rejection of claims directed to a computer-conducted method of "assigning and managing the rights to receive taxes when amounts are disbursed from tax-advantaged accounts for which a prior deduction has been received."

The application explains that tax-deferred savings accounts allow contributions to the account to be made tax-free with taxes payable on disbursements from the account. With this in mind, the described invention provides "for transferring the right to receive taxes due when such amounts are withdrawn from tax-deferred accounts in exchange for current consideration such as money."

The examiner rejected the claims on Section 101 grounds, which the PTAB affirmed: "assigning rights to future tax payments is a fundamental economic practice and therefore an abstract idea."

The applicant argued that the PTAB erroneously analyzed the claims at a generalized abstract level, noting that the claimed steps cannot reasonably be performed by pen and paper because his method "requires millions of calculations within short periods of time." The PTAB disagreed. "Providing for calculations to be performed more efficiently via a computer does not materially alter the patent eligibility of the claimed subject matter."

The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB, finding that “the complexity of this known method does not impart patentability to computer-implementation of the method.”

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