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June 30, 2016


Presumably, had the specification been written post_Alice, it would have explained how the claimed subject matter is a technical feature combination which solves a problem in technology ie the essence of what ought to be patentable.

That would have made it harder to dismiss the claim as ineligible.

My suggestion is that, after the present period of hiatus, drafters will figure out what needs to be included in the specification, to get over the eligibility hurdle, for any given subject matter.

You have been Gisted.


The "technical qua technical" is NOT "what ought to be patentable" to the exclusion of other things, vis a vis, the United States sovereign DIFFERENCE between useful arts and the European style "technical arts."

When we discuss US law, it is rather critical to remember this and to NOT engage in the type of "glossing" that your post would do.

In other words, your post is NOT helpful in that it tries to make it sound acceptable an item discussing US law that WOULD BE acceptable had the discussion occur in the EPO.

Thank you for refraining from being unhelpful in the future.

(and whether that choosing to NOT be unhelpful would actually happen, well, I do remain...

The background circumstances are of some interest.

The patent application which matured into the patent in issue was filed by Mr Coffelt personally and not through an attorney or agent, and was also prosecuted through to grant by him personally. There is no European equivalent, so that it is not possible to see how the EPO would have reacted to the claimed subject matter. In the background section there is some reference to prior art limitations in calculating shadows and reference to eclipses, so that there could be basis for definition of a technical problem. Whether the claim contains sufficient to solve the problem is not immediately clear, and the EPO would very probably have made similar objections to the US court.

The claims are a paradigm example of failure to follow through all the human activities that flow from the invention. The invention is not really about calculating pixel colors for a geometric graphic object but about better displaying the object, especially where it may be partly hidden or illuminated perhaps only by indirect light. A claim to a method of displaying an object comprising receiving spatial data for the object, receiving background data, calculating pixel brightness for the object, and feeding the calculated pixel data for the object to a display would have been considerably less abstract.

It is difficult to see the new function or result achieved by the claimed method. Life is too short to work through the somewhat complex maths in the specific description. But what did things look like before the invention, and what do things look like with the benefit of the invention? A pair of side by side images would do much to make things more convincing.

On the whole, the result is unsurprising and contributes little new from a legal standpoint.

A little more on that "You've been Gisted" comment...

I am (not) amused anytime I see a claim term "Gisted" away with the notion of "directed to" and I am reminded of this single cartoon frame:


After all, any enforcement of the claimed invention still would need to make sure that the "All Elements" rule was satisfied (so why is it permissible to make an element disappear when applying this non-statutory "101"** rule?

Bottom line of the cartoon is that it is just not the same to take some claimed action and insert a human in place of a computer. A computer is a technical thing and should not be viewed as somehow merely a proxy for a human mind. Claims (such as this one which is explicit) that are so clearly NOT directed to a human mind should not be mashed (like a nose of wax) to allow the insertion of the (unnamed) Nuevo Mental Steps doctrine.

**101 in quotes, since this being non-statutory, the Supreme Court could also have picked a random chapter (like 103 or 112). Wait, their "logic" sounds more in either 103 or 112 - and was not 103 explicitly created in replacement of the Court's attempts at "Gist of the Invention"...?

That last question is rhetorical as anyone halfway cognizant of patent law history knows the answer to that question. The real question is why is the Court not respecting this history, and why is Congress sitting on its duff and allowing the Court to disrespect its prior work?

Answers to those questions, especially the latter one, have to do with the sense of Big Corp "voices" capturing the government process.

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