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University of Florida School of Law
Rowe, Elizabeth A.

Patent Law
Rowe / Fall 2008
I.   Introduction to Patent Law
A. Constitution Article I, §8, cl. 8
1. Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings (copyright) and discoveries (patent).
B. Proposed Patent Reform Act of 2007
1. Big companies like this bill, Dem majority supports
2. Changing first-to-invent system – core of U.S. patent system
a. First-to-invent encourages innovation
b. Change to first-inventor-to-file
c. Most countries have first-to-file system
3. Why Congress wants a change
a. System has not been changed in 50 years
b. Expensive: P litigation costs at min $10mill
c. Patent trolls: Some companies sole purpose is to buy patents and litigate
d. PTO is backlogged – outsourcing to Korea
4. Patent Reform Act Commentary
a. As of today, the Senate will not ratify the bill
b. This could change w/new Presidential administration
c. Biggest stumbling block is damages clause, which limits damages a patent holder could receive
C. Filing a Patent – an Overview
1. Patentable subject matter – 4 Categories:
a. Process
b. Machine – something with moving parts
c. Composition of matter – chemistry
d. Article of manufacture – catch all category, anything human made w/no moving parts
1) i.e. wrench
2. Invention Requirements
a. Useful 36 USC §101
1) Aka Utility – invention must have some application for beneficial use in society
b. Novel §102
1) New – demonstrably different from publicly available ideas, inventions, or products (prior art)
2) Cannot already by publicly known
3) Cannot have been anticipated by a prior invention
c. Non-obvious §103
1) Invention cannot be obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art (PHOSITA)
2) Presumption of validity
3. Adequate Disclosure §112
a. Must be described with sufficient precision and detail
1) To permit on skilled in the art to practice the invention
2) To inform others what they must refrain from doing to avoid infringement
4. Term of Patent
a. If filed after June 8, 1995 à 20 years from date patent application was filed
b. If filed before June 8, 1995 à 17 years after issuance OR 20 years from filing
c. Whichever is later
5. Patent Infringement §271
a. An infringer is Whoever without authority
1) Makes
2) Uses
3) Offers to sell or
4) Sells any patented invention (within the US) or
5) Imports into the US
b. No excuse (strict liability)
D. Rationales for Patent Law
1. Provide incentives to engage in desirable behavior
a. Desirable behavior = innovation
b. Without monopoly, people would not want to spend time/money on inventions
c. Benefit = negative right, 20 yr monopoly
2. Encourage disclosure of information
a. Some might choose to keep info as a trade secret without monopoly
b. Trade secrets do not enrich the collective knowledge of society
c. Required to publish details
d. Most small businesses choose trade secret
e. Coca-cola and Google are trade secrets
3. Stimulate technological advancement
a. Encourages people to invent around patents
4. Serve as a facilitator of markets
a. Many companies today have intangible assets
b. Patents allow companies to get the venture capital needed
E. Patent Prosecution Appeals
Supreme Court
Court of Appeals for the Federal Court (exclusive juris)
    ÝÝÝÝÝÝ                 ÝÝÝÝÝÝ
         District Court for the District of Columbia      ÝÝÝÝÝÝ
    ÝÝÝÝÝÝ    -OR-         ÝÝÝÝÝÝ
  PTO Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences
PTO Examine

s Claims
1. Involve a series of steps / method / technique
2. 2 types of process claims:
a. Method of using
b. Method of making
1) “method for preparing improved conditioned oats”
3. Can use both using and making methods claims in a single invention
4. Process patent can be obtained for:
a. A new use of a known product OR
b. Newly discovered property of a known product
5. Infringer must have followed exact steps
6. Invention may have both product and process claims (i.e. computer software)
D. Patentable Subject Matter Timeline
1862 – not allowed to patent business methods, biotech, medical treatment or computers
1954 – allowed methods of medical treatment
1980 – Biotechnology – allow genetically engineered organisms Chakrabraty
1981 – (USSC) Computers may be patented under certain circumstances
    Diamond v. Dyer
1992 – (Fed. Cir.) – need physical transformation Arrythmia
1994 – (Fed. Cir.) Need “useful concrete, tangible” result
1998 – business methods patentable State Street
Hesitant w/computer patentability because abstract and not ‘science’
E. Computer Science
1. Mental Steps doctrine: where an invention is principally a matter of human judgment, calculation, etc. [abstract] it is not patentable
2. In computer science, it is sometimes debated whether math algorithms were applied
3. 2 Questions to ask
a. What is the problem the invention is trying to solve?
b. What is the invention?