2012年8月6日 星期一

可專利性的想法(源自美國專利局長)

可專利性的想法

專利的穩定性很重要,這也跟專利局的審查水準有關,如果濫准/不准一些專利,只會造成市場上的混亂與/或不當得利;如果法院的專利有效性判斷與專利局不同,這也會讓專利權人進入告訴階段時產生極大的不安。這段時間,不少公開上演的專利大戰都與專利有效的爭論有關,比如本部落格文章:
Apple在英國對hTC的告訴失利,原因多半是專利無效(http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/07/742012applehtc-httpenpan.html
連鎖反應&權利範圍的認定
http://enpan.blogspot.tw/2012/05/blog-post_25.html

美國聯邦巡迴法院在案例「CLS Bank International v. Alice Corporation」提供幾個對專利審查答辯的有用的觀點,並由專利局長轉載,顯示其重要性:

此案例涉及一些有關以電腦實施(computer-implemented)的軟體專利的可專利性(35 USC 101),軟體實現的專利用硬體實現的方式來撰寫確實有效,並且可知法院對此類專利侵權官司,第一件事就是討論其可專利性,是否違反專利法101條的規定。某一種角度來看,如果專利不關聯到硬體實現,法院中,應該就難克服不符可專利標的類別的規定。

此案,聯邦巡迴法院認為此類有關系統、方法與儲存媒體的專利標的並不會是抽象概念(abstract ideas)的標的,也就是確定此類發明的可專利性。

此篇"感想"由美國專利局長發出,顯然有其重要性,而且是符合專利局對專利性要求的決定,認為法院在此件案子的決定很"穩健"(我覺得他是這樣想),因為判斷一個案子的有效性不會一昧地僅以其法院權力判斷101的要件而已,而是一併考量102,103與112的要件。

專利局長認為(應該也是專利局的立場,此案由專利局上訴到聯邦法院 由專利權人Alice Corp.針對專利權是否有效上訴CAFC,updated on May 13, 2013,感謝網友指正),當重新判斷專利範圍的有效性時,若範圍已與前案有區隔,且明確界定範圍,並且專利說明書支持其範圍並因此可實施,是否為"抽象概念"或是過廣的概念(broad fundamental concepts)將不是太重要,尤其是有關流程的方法專利。如果法院觀點與專利局一致,這將對核准專利與專利權人有更多的保障。希望專利的有效與否回歸最基礎的要件,也就是102, 103, 112,與其技術特徵、先前技術等基本考量

本案簡短歷史,先從CLS bank在地方法院對
CLS Bank International v. Alice Corporation案例中涉及Alice Corporation所擁有的幾件以電腦實現的美國專利:US5,970,479 (479 Patent)、US6,912,510 (510 Patent)、US7,149,720 (720 Patent)與US7,725,375 (375 Patent)
列舉一例爭議的權利範圍:
Claim 39 of the ’375 Patent, representative of the product (media) claims, recites:
39. A computer program product comprising a computer readable storage medium having computer readable program code embodied in the medium for use by a party to exchange an obligation between a first party and a second party, the computer program product comprising:
program code for causing a computer to send a transaction from said first party relating to an exchange obligation arising from a currency exchange transaction between said first party and said second party; and
program code for causing a computer to allow viewing of information relating to processing, by a supervisory institution, of said exchange obligation, wherein said processing includes:
(1) maintaining information about a first account for the first party, independent from a second account maintained by a first exchange institution, and information about a third account for the second party, independent from a fourth account maintained by a second exchange institution;
(2) electronically adjusting said first account and said third account, in order to effect an exchange obligation arising from said transaction between said first party and said second party, after ensuring that said first party and/or said second party have adequate value in said first account and/or said third account, respectively; and
(3) generating an instruction to said first exchange institution and/or said second exchange institution to adjust said second account and/or said fourth account in accordance with the adjustment of said first account and/or said third account, wherein said instruction being an irrevocable, time invariant obligation placed on said first exchange institution and/or said second exchange institution.


本案簡短歷史,2007月5月CLS bank提出對Alice公司的專利的101法定標的的確認之訴(declaratory judgment),Alice隨之對CLS bank提出侵權訴訟,但此案討論的主要在於電腦執行的軟體專利的有效性。

地方法院的決定是:在方法專利中,利用一般目的的電腦並非連結到特定機器,因此不符101的規定,也是Bilski判例的影響,同時也認專利為抽象概念,應不予專利。
“nominal recitation of a general-purpose computer in a method claim does not tie the claim to a particular machine or apparatus or save the claim from being found unpatentable under § 101.”

上訴者(Alice)則是提出反對意見,認為Bilski判例並非討論在電腦上執行的步驟,也認為該專利並非抽象概念。

聯邦巡迴法院最後認為,專利有效性應回歸其基本要件,如果專利具有新穎性、非顯而易見,並符合撰寫要求,不應僅考量101的問題。

結論:
For the foregoing reasons, this court reverses the district court’s summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of claims 33 and 34 of the ’479 Patent and each claim of the ’510, ’720, and ’375 Patents.

Ron
資料參考:Patently-O, http://www.uspto.gov/blog/director/(David Kappos' Public Blog)
http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/11-1301.pdf (updated on Dec.3,2012)

2 則留言:

uly chen 提到...

怎麼會是專利局上訴呢 不是有兩造嗎

EN & Jane's murmur 提到...

感謝指正!

抱歉現在才來確認這件事,剛好是因為有最新的法院見解才來檢視這篇文章。

Ron