Is Alice Pulling Manufacturing Patents Down the Rabbit Hole? (RECORDING)

Since Alice, most patent eligibility challenges (and the ongoing debate) have been related to software or bio-pharm patents. Even after Alice, most practitioners considered claims drawn to manufacturing tangible goods or incorporating physical components immune from patent eligibility challenges. But the recent decisions from the Federal Circuit in American Axle have put manufacturing, mechanical, and electrical patents at risk.  

It is a fractured set of opinions that includes two split-panel decisions and an en banc denial with six separate concurring or dissenting opinions. The claims were drawn to methods of manufacturing propeller shafts with liners designed to damp vibrations. In the first panel decision, the majority affirmed the district court’s ruling that all claims were ineligible. In the revised panel decision, the majority remanded some claims that included a “positioning” step for further consideration. The dissent sharply criticized the majority’s analysis in both opinions. The court split 6-6 against en banc review of the revised opinion.  

Our panelists will discuss how the Alice/Mayo test for patent eligibility are not being applied to method of manufacturing patents.  Do these cases push the Alice/Mayo test too far? Do they further conflate patent eligibility with obviousness or enablement? And do they put manufacturing, mechanical, and electrical patents more at risk for eligibility challenges (and cancellation)? Join us as we discuss these cases and the current state of patent eligibility. 

John Cheek

DRiV Incorporated

is Enterprise Chief Intellectual Property for Tenneco Inc., one of the world’s leading designers, manufacturers and distributors of clean air and ride performance products and systems for the automotive, commercial truck, and off-highway markets and the aftermarket.  In addition to his enterprise role, Mr. Cheek also leads the IP group Tenneco’s DRiV division, which focuses on ride performance and aftermarket automotive parts.  Prior to joining Tenneco in 2017, Mr. Cheek was senior IP leader at Caterpillar Inc., where he served in leadership roles in the US and Europe. Prior to joining Caterpillar in 1997, Mr. Cheek was in private practice. Mr. Cheek received an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Economics from Wabash College and completed additional undergraduate studies in Physics and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Dayton and Bradley University. He also received a J.D. from the University of Dayton and an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He is a regular lecturer on intellectual property strategy and management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and currently serves on the Executive Committee for ACPC and the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for IPO. 

Timothy McAnulty

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

is a partnerat Finnegan, where he practices all aspects of patent law, includingdistrict court litigations, post-grant proceedings, due diligence, strategiccounseling, freedom-to-operate studies, opinion writing, and portfoliodevelopment. He represents clients across a wide range of technologies andworks closely with them to develop strategies aligned with their businessgoals.  

Jeffrey Totten

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP

is also a partner at Finnegan, where he focuses his practice on patent litigation, trade-secret litigation, and client counseling in the mechanical, electrical, and e-commerce fields. Jeff has represented clients in multiple U.S. district courts and before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). He has extensive experience managing litigation teams involved in complex intellectual-property disputes in the United States and abroad. Jeff, who co-chairs IPO’s Post-Grant Patent Office Practice Committee, also represents clients in matters before the U.S. Patent Office, including Inter Partes Review (IPR), Covered Business Method Review (CBM), and reexamination proceedings. 

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Is Alice Pulling Manufacturing Patents Down the Rabbit Hole? (RECORDING)
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