This morning, the Federal Circuit released three opinions: a precedential opinion in a patent case addressing patentable subject matter, a precedential opinion in another patent case addressing an interference involving first-inventor-to-file patents and first-to-invent applications, and a precedential opinion in a veterans case addressing eligibility for veterans benefits. The court also released a summary affirmance. Here are the introductions to the opinions and a link to the summary affirmance.

Trinity Info Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc. (Precedential)

Trinity Info Media, LLC sued Covalent, Inc. for infringement of patent claims relating to methods and systems for connecting users based on their answers to polling questions. The United States District Court for the Central District of California granted Covalent’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the asserted patents do not claim patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Trinity Info Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc., 562 F. Supp. 3d 770 (C.D. Cal. 2021) (“Decision”). We affirm.

Snipr Technologies Limited v. Rockefeller University (Precedential)

In 2011, Congress enacted the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), transforming the U.S. patent system from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system for determining patent priority. Pub. L. No. 112-29, 125 Stat. 284 (2011). Under the old, pre-AIA first-to-invent system, the first person to invent had “priority” to an invention and was entitled to a patent, even if a different inventor was the first to file a patent application for that invention. Under the AIA’s new first-inventor-to-file system, however, the first person to file a patent application on an invention has priority and is entitled to a patent, even when another inventor can establish an earlier invention date.

As part of the new first-inventor-to-file patent system, Congress eliminated from the Patent Act “interferences,” which are administrative priority contests the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (Patent Office) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) has historically conducted in the old first-to-invent regime to determine which inventor among two inventors who claim the same invention could prove an earlier invention date. The AIA’s effective date provision, AIA § 3(n), makes clear that interferences and other first-to-invent aspects of pre-AIA law do not apply to patents exclusively governed by the AIA and issued under the new first-inventor-to-file regime.

The Board declared an interference between five first-inventor-to-file patents owned by SNIPR Technologies Limited (SNIPR) and a first-to-invent patent application assigned to Rockefeller University (Rockefeller) that resulted in the cancellation of all claims of SNIPR’s patents. SNIPR Tech. Ltd. v. Rockefeller Univ., No. 106,123, 2021 WL 8566747 (P.T.A.B. Nov. 19, 2021) (Decision); SNIPR Tech. Ltd. v. Rockefeller Univ., No. 106,123, 2021 WL 8566749, at *1–2 (P.T.A.B. Nov. 19, 2021) (Judgment). SNIPR appeals, contending that the Board never should have subjected its first-inventor-to-file patents to a vestige of the old first-to-invent system: an invention date contest against Rockefeller’s first-to-invent application through an interference. Because the text, purpose, and history of the AIA make clear that first-inventor-to-file patents exclusively governed by the AIA cannot be subject to an interference (save for one exception not applicable here), we reverse.

Grounds v. McDonough (Precedential)

Linda D. Grounds, the widow of John D. Grounds, appeals a decision of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“Veterans Court”), affirming a decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (“Board”) finding Mr. Grounds ineligible for veterans benefits. We affirm.

Rule 36 Judgment