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"Intangible" Software Unpatentable? - AllVoice Developments v. Microsoft

May 28, 2015
Post by Blog Staff

 

In this non-precedential opinion (Fed. Cir. 2015) the Court held claims 60-68 of U.S. Patent No. 5,799,273 (the "'273 Patent‚¬) invalid under 35. U.S.C. § 101 as not being directed to one of the four statutory categories of inventions identified in 35 U.S.C. 101.

Claim 60 is set forth below:


60. A universal speech-recognition interface that enables operative coupling of a speech-recognition engine to at least any one of a plurality of different computer-related applications, the universal speech-recognition interface comprising:

input means for receiving speech-recognition data including recognised words;

output means for outputting the recognised words into at least any one of the plurality of different computer-related applications to allow processing of the recognised words as input text; and audio playback means for playing audio data associated with the recognised words.


Section 101 identifies four independent categories of inventions or discoveries that are eligible for protection: processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. The Court held that claims 60-68 did not recite a process or tangible or physical object and thus do not fall within any of the categories of eligible subject matter. The Court stated that "Software may be patent eligible, but when a claim is not directed towards a process, the subject matter must exist in tangible form. Here, the disputed claims merely claim software instructions without any hardware limitations."

 



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