PTAB Ruling Breaks Ranks With Supreme Court and Federal Circuit

Authored by Brian S. Mudge and Tiffany Mahmood

In a recent trial institution decision, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that a business method patent for trading securities was patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The case, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc. v. 5th Market, Inc., CBM2015-00061 (PTAB July 16, 2015) (paper 9) involved a covered business method (CBM) patent proceeding related to U.S. Patent No. 7,024,387. Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the petitioner, asserted various grounds of unpatentability against patent owner, 5th Market, including patent ineligibility under Section 101. In a holding that appears to be at odds with recent Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedent, the PTAB ruled that the challenged claims of the ʼ387 were patent eligible because the disclosed structure for a means plus function element was, in effect, a “special purpose computer” that provides a meaningful limitation on the claimed abstract idea.

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