Here’s the latest.

Federal Circuit Patent Decision in 2020: An Empirical Review

Reported by Dan Bagatell at Law360

Dan Bagatell’s annual article analyzes the patent cases that came before the Federal Circuit in 2020.

Among the more notable differences from 2019, the court’s docket shifted more toward appeals from district court cases; the court affirmed more often, especially in appeals from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; it issued more nonprecedential opinions and fewer summary dispositions; and it issued fewer dissents.

Appeals from the PTAB were affirmed the most at 86%, but IPR appeals were not far behind at 83%. The Eastern District of Virginia had the highest affirmance rate at 92% of all district courts. 2020 also marked a third straight year where the number of overall patent cases has decreased from the year prior. Bagatell reasoned that the Federal Circuit issued more nonprecedential opinions as opposed to Rule 36 judgments because COVID-19 forced the court to decide cases solely on the briefing as instead of hearing oral arguments in more cases. However, COVID-19 did not affect the productivity of the Federal Circuit as the median time to dispose of patent cases and the median disposition backlog both improved from 2019.

Boom! You Can’t Patent an Escrow Method

Reported by Dennis Crouch at Patently-O

Boom! Payment’s patent could not survive the Mayo/Alice framework for patent eligibility at the district court, and the Federal Circuit affirmed the decision last Wednesday. Dennis Crouch summarizes Boom! Payments, Inc. v. Stripe, Inc. and noted Boom! Payment’s interesting name.

I used to play golf fairly regularly and got into the habit of announcing “BOOM!” on every drive. It didn’t help my game. BOOM!’s great name here also didn’t save its patent from dancing the Alice Two Step. (Note: I was 15 years old at the time–on my high-school freshman team getting free-rounds for the season).

The patent at issue attempted to claim a passcode system and was allowed by the examiner after minor clarifying amendments, but the Federal Circuit agreed that the patent was directed towards an abstract idea and did not have a sufficient inventive concept added to the idea. Boom! Payments also argued that the case was improperly dismissed based on the assertions within the pleadings.

The Federal Circuit identifies the assertion here as conclusory and thus gives it no weight in determining whether the complaint generates disputed material facts. This is a bit odd since we’re asking the patentee to prove a negative, but perhaps the patentee could have cited to the reasons-for-allowance within the complaint itself or submitted an affidavit from an expert on-point as an attachment to the complaint.

For more information, see our coverage.

Nintendo’s Win in Wii Controller Patent Case Affirmed

Reported by Blake Brittain at Bloomberg Law

The Federal Circuit refused last Wednesday to overturn Nintendo’s win over iLife at the lower court. Blake Brittain recaps the decision concerning the Wii’s motion-detecting controller where a jury originally awarded iLife $10.1 million.

But the district court later found the relevant part of the patent was invalid because it covered the abstract idea of “gathering, processing, and transmitting information.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the [invalidity] ruling on Wednesday.

The Federal Circuit rebuffed iLife’s arguments that the patent was not abstract or included an inventive concept by finding that the patent did not add a specific or unique improvement to the motion sensors.

For more information, see our coverage.