This morning the Federal Circuit released a precedential opinion in a patent case appealed from the Eastern District of Virginia, concluding that the Patent Act requires an inventor to be a natural person. The Federal Circuit also released two nonprecedential orders. One dismisses an appeal for failure to prosecute; one grants the transfer of an appeal from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Finally, the Federal Circuit released two Rule 36 judgments and an erratum. Here is the introduction to the opinion, text from the orders, and links to the Rule 36 judgments and erratum.

Thaler v. Vidal (Precedential)

This case presents the question of who, or what, can be an inventor. Specifically, we are asked to decide if an artificial intelligence (AI) software system can be listed as the inventor on a patent application. At first, it might seem that resolving this issue would involve an abstract inquiry into the nature of invention or the rights, if any, of AI systems. In fact, however, we do not need to ponder these metaphysical matters. Instead, our task begins – and ends – with consideration of the applicable definition in the relevant statute.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) undertook the same analysis and concluded that the Patent Act defines “inventor” as limited to natural persons; that is, human beings. Accordingly, the PTO denied Stephen Thaler’s patent applications, which failed to list any human as an inventor. Thaler challenged that conclusion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which agreed with the PTO and granted it summary judgment. We, too, conclude that the Patent Act requires an “inventor” to be a natural person and, therefore, affirm.

Guardino v. Merit Systems Protection Board (Nonprecedential Order)

The petitioner having failed to pay the docketing fee required by Federal Circuit Rule 52 (a) (1) and to file the required Statement Concerning Discrimination, it is

ORDERED that the petition for review be, and the same hereby is, DISMISSED, for failure to prosecute in accordance with the rules.

Thorpe v. Salisbury Township, PA (Nonprecedential Order)

Joe Thorpe seeks review of orders of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the two underlying civil rights cases that denied Mr. Thorpe’s motion for an injunction and dismissed his claims. On May 27, 2022, this court directed the parties to show cause as to why the appeals should not be dismissed or transferred to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Mr. Thorpe and appellee Michael J. Pochron have not responded. The remaining appellees (collectively, “responding appellees”) submit informal response briefs urging dismissal of the appeals for lack of jurisdiction.

These appeals are outside this court’s appellate jurisdiction. This court possesses jurisdiction over only certain appeals from federal district courts, including cases arising under the patent laws, see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1295(a)(1), 1295(a)(4)(C), and certain cases against the United States for claims “not exceeding $10,000 in amount,” 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2), see 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(2). None of these apply to Mr. Thorpe’s appeals. And Mr. Thorpe’s opening briefs, which he filed prior to the issuance of our show cause order, do not address this court’s jurisdiction over these appeals.

When this court lacks jurisdiction, it may, “if it is in the interest of justice, transfer such . . . appeal[s]” to the appropriate court. 28 U.S.C. § 1631. Although responding appellees urge dismissal because the district court dismissed some of Mr. Thorpe’s claims without prejudice and permitted him to amend his complaints, we deem it the better course to transfer to the Third Circuit for that court to address those issues. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED THAT: Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631, these appeals and all filings are transferred to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Rule 36 Judgments