In the Headlines
August 13, 2020

American Axle Split Opinion Refuels Drive to Reform Eligibility Law

Managing IP

Intellectual Property Partner Anthony Fuga was cited in a Managing IP article discussing the desire for Section 101 reform after a recent six-six judge split at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on the potential rehearing of a case on patent eligibility. While the decision in American Axle v. Neapco wasn't surprising, and might not even represent a big shift in case law for natural laws directed towards physical inventions, practitioners have re-emphasized the confusion surrounding patent eligibility law in the United States. Sources suggest this latest development in American Axle wasn't just a red flag for patent eligibility because of the evenly split decision, but because of the assertive manner in which several judges expressed their dissents as well. However, counsel note that beyond its highlighting of the split on Section 101 matters at the Federal Circuit, the case doesn't depart significantly on past precedent.

Mr. Fuga says the most important takeaway is the split, not the fact that the patent was aimed at a physical object. He notes that while the patent might seem tangible because it surrounds drive shafts, the Federal Circuit has made it clear in the past that the inclusion of physical components will not necessarily save a patent that is directed towards an abstract idea.

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