Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Burk: Is Dolly patentable subject matter in light of Alice?

Dan Burk's work should already be familiar to those who follow patentable subject matter debates (see, e.g., here, here, and here). In a new essay, Dolly and Alice, he questions whether the Federal Circuit's May 2014 In re Roslin decision—holding clones such as Dolly to not be patentable subject matter—should have come out differently under the Supreme Court's June 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. Short answer: yes.

Burk does not have kind words for either the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court, and he reiterates his prior criticism of developments like the gDNA/cDNA distinction in Myriad. His analysis of how Roslin should be analyzed under Alice begins on p. 11 of the current draft:
[E]ven assuming that the cloned sheep failed the first prong of the Alice test, the analysis would then move to the second prong to look for an "inventive concept" that takes the claimed invention beyond an attempt to merely capture the prohibited category of subject matter identified in the first step. . . . The Roslin patent claims surely entail such an inventive concept in the method of creating the sheep. The claims recite "clones," which the specification discloses were produced by a novel method that is universally acknowledged to have been a highly significant and difficult advance in reproductive technology—an "inventive concept" if there ever was one . . . [which] was not achieved via conventional, routine, or readily available techniques . . . .
But while Burk thinks Roslin might have benefited from the Alice framework, he also contends that this exercise demonstrates the confusion Alice creates across a range of doctrines, and particularly for product by process claims. He concludes by drawing an interesting parallel to the old Durden problem of how the novelty of a starting material affects the patentability of a process, and he expresses skepticism that there is any coherent way out; rather, he thinks Alice "leaves unsettled questions that will haunt us for years to come."

No comments:

Post a Comment