Federal Circuit Avoids §101 Analysis in Determining Patent Validity
By Jacob Rogers – Edited by Lauren Henry
MySpace, Inc. v. Graphon Corp., No. 2011-1149 (Fed. Cir. 2012)
The Federal Circuit affirmed Northern District of California’s ruling on summary judgment that four of Graphon’s patents were invalid due to either lack of novelty or obviousness under 35 U.S.C. §102 and 35 U.S.C. §103, respectively. The district court found that these patents, which disclose a method for creating and searching a database over the Internet, were anticipated by the Mother of All Bulletin boards, created by Dr. Oliver McBryan. MySpace v. Graphon, No. 2011-1149.
The Federal Circuit held that the district court correctly ruled that Graphon’s patents were either anticipated or obvious and that the district court’s reasoning was adequately clear despite a failure to go through the full Graham factor analysis. Id. at 23 (citing Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1, 17 (1966)). The court also held that it was not necessary to examine the subject matter of the patents under 35 U.S.C. §101 because the case could be dealt with using §§102 and 103. Id. at 17-18. In so holding, the court compared the patentable subject matter requirements of §101 to the Constitution and suggested that the courts should apply something similar to the constitutional avoidance doctrine by endeavoring to resolve cases under §102 and 103 rather than §101 whenever possible. Id.
PatentlyO provides an overview and analysis of the case. The Patent Prospector criticizes the decision, arguing that the district court’s incomplete claim construction should have been reversible error. (more…)