Volume 11, Number 2 (2012)
Date posted: 8-12-2012
This Issue Brief examines recent cases addressing the patent eligibility of computer-implemented method claims and their implications for the development of cloud computing technologies. Despite the Supreme Court’s refusal to endorse the machine-or-transformation test as the exclusive patent eligibility inquiry, lower courts have continued to invalidate method claims using a stringent “particular machine” requirement alongside the requisite abstract ideas analysis. This Issue Brief argues that 1) post-Bilski v. Kappos cases have failed to elucidate what constitutes a particular machine for computer-implemented methods; 2) in light of substantial variance among Federal Circuit judges’ Section 101 jurisprudence, the application of the particular machine requirement has become subject to a high degree of panel-dependency, such that its relevance for analyzing software method claims has come under question; 3) notwithstanding the unease expressed by practitioners and scholars for the future of cloud computing patents, the courts’ hardening stance toward computer-implemented method claims will do little to deter patenting in the cloud computing context. Instead, clouds delivering platform and software services will remain capable of satisfying the particular machine requirement and supporting patent eligibility, especially given the possible dilution of the particular machine requirement itself.
Topic: Patents & Technology
Date posted: 9-25-2012
Copyright law aims to promote the dual goals of incentivizing production of literary and artistic works, and promoting public access and free speech. To achieve these goals, Congress has implemented a policy that acknowledges the rights of both the copyright holder and the public, which vest with the fixation of the work. However, as Congressional action has strengthened copyright protection, the rights of the public have been narrowed. Orphan works – works to which the copyright owner cannot be located or identified – present a unique problem, in that achieving free access and use of the works is often impossible. This note argues that the public has a recognizable right in both gaining access to and using orphan works – a right which emanates from, but is tangential to, the First Amendment right to free speech.
Topic: Copyright & Trademarks
The Myth and Reality of Dilution
Sandra L. Rierson
Date posted: 10-8-2012
Statutory dilution claims are traditionally justified on the theory that even non-confusing uses of a famous trademark (or similar mark) can nonetheless minutely dilute the source-identifying capacity of the targeted trademark. This Article challenges that theory. The evidence that this phenomenon occurs is weak and has been subject to substantial empirical challenge. The true foundation for dilution claims lies not in alleged economic harms, but rather the misplaced fiction of corporate personality. We do not require trademark holders to prove actual economic injury in the context of a dilution claim because, at least in the vast majority of cases, there is none. Instead, we have granted the holders of famous trademarks the equivalent of a “moral” right to these marks, analogous to the rights granted to a creator of an expressive work in the copyright context. The parameters of that right have recently expanded in numerous ways that have increasingly burdened both competition and free speech. Recasting dilution law in a moral rights framework allows us to more accurately assess its costs and benefits, with normative implications for its continued existence and scope. In particular, the federal dilution statute should be repealed, amended, or, at the very least, narrowly construed.
Topic: Copyrights & Trademarks
Date posted: 11-21-2012
This Issue Brief explores an oft-neglected irony in international e-discovery: the rationales used by courts to compel discovery against foreign parties embroiled in litigation in U.S. courts may contradict courts’ reasoning when compelling discovery against U.S. parties engaged in litigation overseas. U.S. courts often grant petitions for discovery, increasingly electronic in form, both against a foreign party in the U.S. and against a domestic party abroad. Although allowing discovery in both scenarios appears consistent, it actually ignores important counterconsiderations like fairness and reciprocity in different legal systems. Because the rise of technology has exacerbated the existing problem, making discovery more expensive and time-consuming, this Brief proposes that, when examining 28 U.S.C. § 1782 claims, courts adopt a more conservative approach to foreign-discoverability and a comparative approach to the balancing test set forth in Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
Date posted: 11-25-2012
The Active Denial System (ADS) is unlike any other nonviolent weapon: instead of incapacitating its targets, it forces them to flee, and it does so without being seen or heard. Though it is a promising new crowd-control tool for law-enforcement, excessive-force claims involving the ADS will create a Fourth Amendment jurisprudential paradox. Moreover, the resolution of that paradox could undermine other constitutional principles—like equality, fairness, and free speech. Ultimately, the ADS serves as a warning that without legislation, American jurisprudence may not be ready for the next generation of law-enforcement technology and the novel excessive-force claims sure to follow.
Topic: Patents & Technology
The America Invents Act 500: Effects of Patent Monetization Entities on US Litigation
Sara Jeruss, Robin Feldman, and Joshua Walker
Date posted: 11-30-2012
Any discussion of flaws in the United States patent system inevitably turns to the system’s modern villain: non-practicing entities, known more colorfully as patent trolls. For many years, however, discussions about non-practicing entities have been long on speculation and short on data. In 2011 Congress directed the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to study the effects of non-practicing entities on patent litigation. At the request of the GAO, we collected and coded a set of patent lawsuits filed over the past five years. This article presents our analysis of the data and its implications. The data confirm in a dramatic fashion what many scholars and commentators have suspected: patent monetization entities play a role in a substantial portion of the lawsuits filed today. Based on our sample, lawsuits filed by patent monetizers have increased from 22% of the cases filed five years ago to almost 40% of the cases filed in the most recent year. In addition, of the five parties in the sample who filed the greatest number of lawsuits during the period studied, four were monetizers and only one was an operating company.
Topic: Patents & Technology
Date posted: 1-9-2013
Despite the intellectual property system’s success in promoting the economic well-being of the United States, this system has not achieved all socially valuable ends. Insufficient treatments are applied both to diseases endemic in developing countries, such as malaria, and rare diseases, such as rare childhood cancers. Several legislative tools aim to promote socially valuable drugs and biologics through market incentives. The priority review voucher (PRV) program is the latest and most unique of these legislative tools aimed at encouraging the development of drugs for neglected diseases without burdening taxpayers. The Creating Hope Act—recently signed into law as part of the Food & Drug Administration Safety & Innovation Act—extends the PRV program to rare pediatric diseases. This Issue Brief argues that some provisions in this new legislation may result in undesirable collateral effects that could prevent the legislation from fulfilling its objective of encouraging investment in treatments for rare pediatric diseases.
Topic: Health & Biotechnology
Date posted: 2-6-2013
After a lengthy premarket approval process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just deemed AquAdvantage Salmon, a fast-growing, genetically engineered salmon, safe for human consumption. AquAdvantage Salmon is the first genetically engineered animal designed for human consumption to go to market in the United States. Because there have been no significant changes to the statutory or regulatory framework governing agricultural biotechnology since it was established in the 1980s, the FDA reviews applications of genetically engineered animals under the New Animal Drug Application (NADA) provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). The FDA’s treatment of genetically engineered food as a new animal drug has been criticized due to potential environmental and human health risks, and because of a lack of transparency throughout the regulatory process. After providing an overview of the premarket approval process, this Issue Brief argues that even under the NADA provisions, the FDA’s premarket approval risk assessment should be more transparent. In particular, the justification for trade secret status of relevant biotechnology is undermined, if not extinguished, by the need for public consideration of the biotechnology’s safety and effectiveness after a certain time in the approval process. Furthermore, the comment period prior to advisory committee meetings should be lengthened to allow for greater scientific input on safety and effectiveness, and an independent body should be created to communicate with the public about food safety.
Topic: Health & Biotechnology
After Prometheus, Are Human Genes Patentable Subject Matter?
Douglas L. Rogers
Date posted: 5-6-2013
On April 15, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. on the question, “Are human genes patentable?” This article argues that human genes are not patentable and that isolating a gene from its surroundings in a human body—or creating synthetically what exists in nature as DNA—does not cause the DNA to become patentable subject matter. The isolated DNA segments of claim 1 have the identical nucleotide sequence and the same function as native DNA, and the isolated DNA of claim 1 do not reflect the marked changes required under Chakrabarty, or the inventive step required under Prometheus, to change an unpatentable product of nature into patentable subject matter. Claim 2 describes those nucleotides in the DNA sequence that code for the polypeptide identified in the Myriad Genetics patent specification and simply reflects the genetic code, an unpatentable law of nature. Since no inventive step has been added to the law of nature, claim 2 constitutes unpatentable subject matter under Prometheus. The Federal Circuit’s contrary decision in Myriad Genetics disregards 150 years of Supreme Court cases that physical phenomena found in nature and laws of nature are not patentable subject matter and threatens to enclose building blocks of nature under federal patent law. The Supreme Court should reverse the Federal Circuit’s decision in Myriad Genetics on claims 1 and 2.
Topic: Prometheus, Human Genes, Patentable Subject Matter