October 7, 2020

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Section 101 Patent Eligibility (Again)

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

It should not surprise anyone reading this blog that the U.S. Supreme Court has again declined to grant any petitions concerning Section 101 patent eligibility, despite the ongoing disagreement at the Federal Circuit. While we were anxiously awaiting in January to see whether the Supreme Court would weigh in on HP v. Berkheimer or Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo, there was little anticipation for this slate of Section 101 cases.

Chamberlain v. Techtronic had the most potential of being called. In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found a patent relating to an apparatus and method for communicating information about the status of a movable barrier (e.g., a garage door) to be directed to the abstract idea of "wirelessly communicating status information about a system."

Three of the four other denied petitions related to rejected patent applications regarding: 1) online surveys, 2) giving store credit rather than coins as change, and 3) matching advertisers based on computer networks. The fifth and final denied petition was for Ameranth v. Domino's Pizza, which was regarding the Federal Circuit invalidating a patent directed "configuring and transmitting hospitality menu related information." These denials were all expected.

And between the election and COVID-19, it remains unlikely that we will see Congress direct any real effort to patent reform in the near future.

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