This is from a declaration I filed in a patent case.
I. Because Section 101 is not “specified” as a “condition for patentability,” and, further, is not a condition for patentability, a “violation” of Section 101 may not be raised in a covered business method proceeding.
The starting point of my analysis is a consideration of the statutory limitation on grounds that can be raised in a CBM proceeding. As part of a limited transitional program, Congress expressly and plainly limited the grounds that can be asserted in a CBM proceeding to a small subset of those than those that can be raised in patent infringement suits. Specifically, although 35 U.S.C. § 282 lists defenses in patent suits, under the AIA in CBM proceedings only the defenses listed in subsections (b)(2) and (b)(3) can be raised. 37 C.F.R. § 42.304. It is clear that subsection (b)(3) does not cover Section 101, since it cites only to sections 112 and 251.
As a consequence, the only potential basis for Section 101 to be a defense – and therefore a proper basis for CBM Review – is if it is within subsection (b)(2), which states: “(2) Invalidity of the patent or any claim in suit on any ground specified in part II [of Title 35] as a condition for patentability.” 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2).
Unless Section 101 is “specified” in “part II” as a “condition for patentability,” it is not a proper basis for instituting a CBM proceeding. Sections 100 to 212 are in part II of the Patent Act. Thus, Section 101 is in part II. However, of those one hundred and twelve separate sections, two are “specified” as “conditions for patentability” – sections 102 and 103. Their titles state:
102. Conditions for patentability; novelty.
103. Conditions for patentability; non-obviousness subject matter.
Thus, plainly sections 102 and 103 each is “specified” as a “condition for patentability.” Just as plainly, Section 101 is not “specified” as a “condition for patentability:”
101. Inventions patentable.
In my opinion, the words “specified” as “a condition for patentability” in subsection 282(b)(2) point to only two sections of the one hundred and twelve sections in part two: sections 102 and 103. Congress knew how to specify a condition for patentability by putting the words “condition for patentability” in the title: Section 101 is not specified as a condition for patentability. Any other reading of subsection 282(b)(2) renders the word “specified” superfluous, and it also renders the phrase “conditions for patentability” superfluous. Either result violates a basic tenet of statutory interpretation. Just as it is improper to read “in part II” out, it is improper to read these other express limitations out of the statute.
Even putting aside the fact that only two statutes in part II are specified as “conditions for patentability,” and assuming courts are free to allow defenses to be raised under subsection 282(b)(2) even though they are not specified as “conditions for patentability,” it is clear that, in substance, Section 101 is not a “condition.”
First, reading the statute as a whole (which proper analysis requires), there is no doubt that Congress knew how to write a “condition for patentability.” In substance, sections 102 and 103 are express conditions for patentability. Section 102 begins, “A person shall be entitled to a patent unless . . . .” Section 103 states that “a patent for an invention may not be obtained . . . if the differences” would have been obvious at the time of the invention. Section 102 conditions patentability on novelty; section 103 conditions patentability on non-obviousness.
In stark contrast, Section 101 permissively states that “[w]hoever invents or discovers any new and useful process . . . or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor,” but doing so is “subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.” Thus, Section 101 grants permission to an inventor to apply for a patent, subjecting issuance to the conditions and requirements of the title. Further, Section 101 does not limit the person’s entitlement to a patent, unlike Section 102 and 103. It is in my opinion that Section 101 does not “condition” patentability on the invention falling within Section 101: if Congress had wanted to condition patentability on Section 101, it perhaps could have done so, but it plainly did not.
Further, the same legislation that codified the transitional CBM proceeding expressly describes Section 101, not as providing a condition for patentability, but as merely setting forth “categories of patent-eligible subject matter.” AIA § 18(e). Consistent with this, Congress authorized the PTO to rely on certain prior art to invalidate a claim under sections 102 and 103, AIA § 18(c), but the statute never mentions Section 101 as a basis for invalidity.
For these reasons, it is in my opinion clear that, although it is in part II of the Patent Act, Section 101 is not specified as a “condition for patentability” and it is in substance not a condition. Consequently, it is not a ground for review in the CBM proceeding sought by defendant herein.
In my opinion, the clarity of the text ends the inquiry. The text of the statute is not ambiguous. Nor is it absurd to conclude that Congress chose not to make “ineligible subject matter” a basis for CBM: indeed, given the Congressional purpose of speedy review of covered business method patents, a Section 101 inquiry would bog down the PTO in the myriad factual issues underlying the inquiry – many of which involve facts external to the PTO, such as whether the patent “preempts” other methods (i.e., whether there are non-infringing alternatives), what was “routine” or “conventional” in the art, and other facts not likely to be shown entirely by prior art. Omitting Section 101 is far from absurd but instead matches the purpose and intent of Congress to create a speedy, certain proceeding. See generally, Ultramercial, LLC v. Hulu, LLC, 772 F.3d 1335 (Fed. Cir. 2013) (identifying some of the factual inquiries inherent in the question of eligible subject matter).
Even assuming, nonetheless, that it is proper to look beyond the text, in my opinion it is proper to look to the purpose of the statute and legislative intent. Both confirm the plain meaning of the statute.
The purpose of the statute confirms that the CBM procedure was adopted to address shortcomings with the PTO’s ability in the late 1990’s to find prior art, and that was Congress’s intent. The House report makes clear that the purpose was to deal with the perception that in the late 1990’s, the PTO had not found the best prior art to apply under sections 102 and 103:
A number of patent observers believe the issuance of poor business-method patents during the late 1990’s through the early 2000’s led to the patent ‘‘troll’’ lawsuits that compelled the Committee to launch the patent reform project 6 years ago. At the time, the USPTO lacked a sufficient number of examiners with expertise in the relevant art area. Compounding this problem, there was a dearth of available prior art to assist examiners as they reviewed business method applications. Critics also note that most countries do not grant patents for business methods.
The Act responds to the problem by creating a transitional program 1 year after enactment of the bill to implement a provisional post-grant proceeding for review of the validity of any business method patent. In contrast to the era of the late 1990’s-early 2000’s, examiners will review the best prior art available….
H. Rep. 112-98, at p. 54 (June 1, 2011) (emphases added). Thus, the committee report shows that the purpose of the amendments is consistent with the text: to allow those charged within infringement to show that the invention was not new or would have been obvious in light of “the best prior art available.” The report emphasized the lack of “a sufficient number of examiners with expertise in the relevant art area.” Nothing in the House report mentions the failure to recognize “abstract ideas” or the failure to properly apply Section 101. Further, it is absurd to suggest that in the late 1990s lack of access to prior art or lack of sufficient examiners with familiarity with prior art had any impact on the ability to determine what is a “law of nature,” or “abstract idea,” or the like. If anything, this shows that Congress enacted the CBM proceeding for the purpose of responding to the problem of difficulty in finding prior art and experts in the fields of business methods.
Beyond this, the legislative history of the AIA on this transitional program is, like almost all legislative histories, murky. I have reviewed the remarks made on the Floor of the Senate, and there is no doubt that a few members of Congress mentioned business method patents. A fair reading is that at least some members of Congress thought the source of the problem to be addressed was with “abstract” patents, while others believed the failure to consider the most pertinent prior art was the source of the problem. What controls is the language Congress enacted, not my speculation about the intent of a handful of elected representatives.
For the reasons shown above, in my view the text and committee report focus on prior art under sections 102 and 103. As enacted, in my opinion the AIA does not allow review of covered business methods for “eligible subject matter” in terms of Section 101.
II. Arguments I Considered but Found Incorrect.
I understand the PTO’s position is that Section 101 can be a basis for instituting a CBM Review. E.g., SAP Am., Inc. v. Versata Dev. Group, Inc., CBM2012-00001 (Jan. 9, 2013). Director Kappos justified the PTO’s position, not by focusing on the text, but by stating: “This interpretation is consistent with both the relevant case law and the legislative history.” The PTO in its decision in Versata relied upon the same grounds. For the following reasons, this interpretation is incorrect.
First, these authorities simply do not address the text of the statute. The statute is not ambiguous. It is not absurd. There is no reason whatsoever to move beyond the plain text.
Second, the Supreme Court case relied upon to support these views is Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1 (1966). That famous case about Section 103 had nothing to do with whether “eligible subject matter” was a condition for patentability, and did not decide that issue. Instead, in dicta analyzing the “condition for patentability” in Section 103, the court noted:
The Act sets out the conditions of patentability in three sections. An analysis of the structure of these three sections indicates that patentability is dependent upon three explicit conditions: novelty and utility as articulated and defined in § 101 and § 102, and nonobviousness, the new statutory formulation, as set out in § 103. The first two sections, which trace closely the 1874 codification, express the ‘new and useful’ tests which have always existed in the statutory scheme and, for our purposes here, need no clarification. The pivotal section around which the present controversy centers is § 103 . . . .
383 U.S. at 12-13. The statement actually undermines the argument that “eligible subject matter” is a condition for patentability. Graham explains that the Patent Act of 1793 had only two conditions for patentability: utility and novelty (both of which were once in the same statute, a precursor to sections 101 and 102). Id. at 10 (“Although the Patent Act was amended, revised or codified some 50 times between 1790 and 1950, Congress steered clear of a statutory set of requirements other than the bare novelty and utility tests reformulated in Jefferson’s draft of the 1793 Patent Act”). The Graham Court recognized that in 1952 Congress had added a third condition, non-obviousness. See id. at 14 (“Patentability is to depend, in addition to novelty and utility, upon the ‘non-obvious’ nature of the ‘subject matter sought to be patented’ to a person having ordinary skill in the art.’”) (quoting Section 103).
For these reasons, even if Graham is misapprehended as a definitive interpretation of Section 101, the Court’s opinion suggests that “eligible subject matter” is not a condition for patentability. If Graham stated that utility, novelty, and non-obviousness were conditions for patentability, then the Court’s statement that there are “three conditions” means “eligible subject matter” is not one: if “eligible subject matter” were also a condition for patentability, then there would be four, not three, conditions.
I have also seen others avoid the text but instead cite to dicta in Dealertrack, Inc. v. Huber, 674 F.3d 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2012) and to dicta in a footnote in Aristrocrat Techs., Austl. PTY LTd. v. Int’l Game Tech., 543 F.3d 657, 661 (Fed. Cir. 2008). Neither case decided whether Section 101 was a condition for patentability. Although the merits of a Section 101 issue was decided in Dealertrack, the patentee did not contend that Section 101 was not a statutory defense, and the court did not decide that issue. Further, dicta in both cases traces directly back to the dicta from Graham. But loose language can be found in other cases saying exactly the opposite. For example, the Federal Circuit has stated: “The two sections of part II that Congress has denominated ‘conditions of patentability’ are § 102 . . . and § 103 . . . .” Myspace, Inc. v. GraphOn Corp., 672 F.3d 1250, 1260-61 (Fed. Cir. 2012). The Supreme Court made essentially the same observation in Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 190-91 (1981).
The important fact to me is that none of these cases parse the statutory text, or just examine the purpose and legislative history of the AIA discussed here. Ignoring the actual text in favor of what courts have said a statute says is obviously incorrect. In that regard, the Supreme Court has overridden judicial interpretations of statutes that failed to adhere to the text, and has done so even after decades of having lower courts adhere to those incorrect constructions. See Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, 511 U.S. 164, 177 & 191 (1994) (overruling six decades of case law implying a cause of action), superseded on other grounds by 15 U.S.C. § 78(t)(e). Whatever a court says a statute says, the Constitution makes paramount what the enacted text actually says.
I have also considered whether this analysis improperly relies upon titles to interpret the text. I agree it is generally improper to use the title to interpret text, at least where the title contradicts or is inconsistent with the substantive text. But that principle has no application here: Congress in the text of subsection 282(b)(2) limited the grounds upon which a CBM proceeding may be based to those “specified” in “part II” as “conditions for patentability.” Thus, the statutory text of Section 282 says to look for things “specified” in “part II” as “conditions for patentability.” Consequently, I am not using the title of any statute to interpret the meaning of Section 101: I am applying the plain text of subsection 282(b)(2). I am not using the title to interpret the text with respect to either “specified” as a “condition for patentability” just as I am not with respect to the statute’s use of “specified” in “part II.” Further, as shown above, I use only the text of the statutes to conclude that Sections 102 and 103 are conditions, but Section 101 is not. Reading those three statutes in pari materia (together), it is clear sections 102 and 103 are conditions, but Section 101 is not. The titles confirm the interpretation of the text, but they are not the source of it.
I have also considered other aspects of the legislative history. For example, then-Director Kappos observed: “a key House Committee Report states that ‘the post-grant review proceeding permits a challenge on any ground related to invalidity under section 282.’ H.R. Rep. No.112-98, at 47 (2011).” Yet, it is undeniable that the text of the adopted statute points to only two subsections of Section 282, and so this sentence from that report flatly contradicts the enacted statute. A sentence in a committee report that directly contradicts the plain language does not control. As with most bills, the legislative history of the AIA contains many statements that are not the law, and a few that contradict the statute.
Others have pointed to this statement from a senator from Arizona, Senator Kyl: “section 101 invention issues” were among those “that can be raised in post-grant review.” 157 Cong. Rec. S1375 (daily ed. Mar. 8, 2011). Relying on this statement for the proposition that eligible subject matter is covered by the text is doubly problematic. Foremost, “section 101 invention issues” is not in the enacted text. Further, the Supreme Court has long and repeatedly rejected relying upon one legislator’s statement as having been presented to Congress and enacted into federal law. Doing so jeopardizes the Constitutional requirements of enactment and presentment. This is especially true where, as here, that statement contradicts the plain text as well as other more weighty evidence of legislative intent, coming in the form of Senate reports from the AIA, Congressional reports on the 1952 Act, and Federico’s commentary, discussed above. Those sources – which, if entitled to any weight, are entitled to more weight than one Senator’s floor statement – contradict Senator Kyl’s subjective interpretation of the statute. Again, however, I believe none of this matters here.
To sum up, in my opinion dicta in cases does not control. Dicta in cases that do not analyze the statutory text do not control. A committee report that flatly contradicts the enacted text does not control. And one Senator’s opinion is not enacted statutory text.
 The Supreme Court has cautioned against giving weight even to committee reports, admonishing courts that “judicial reliance on legislative materials like committee reports, which are not themselves subject to the requirements of Article I [of the U.S. Constitution], may give unrepresentative committee members – or, worse yet, unelected staffers and lobbyists – both the power and the incentive to attempt strategic manipulations of legislative history to secure results they were unable to achieve through the statutory text.” ExxonMobil Corp. v. Allapattah Serv., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 568 (2005). Here, the committee report simply confirms the plain text; it is not being used to interpret the text.
 As explained above, courts view legislative history, particularly more modern legislative history such that accompanying the AIA, with skepticism. Thus, I only note that the Senate report from 1952 and persuasive commentary by P.J. Federico confirm the plain meaning. First, both reports from 1952 Act state: “Section 101 sets forth the subject matter that can be patented, ‘subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.’ The conditions under which a patent may be obtained follow, and section 102 covers the conditions relating to novelty.” H. Rep. 1923, S. Rep. 1979 (82d Cong. 2d Session) (emphasis added). It is a perversion of the English language to read “the conditions under which a patent may be obtained follow” Section 101, but nonetheless in Section 101. Second and consistent with the plain text and these reports, Federico wrote that Section 4886 – which Congress in 1952 split up into what became sections 101, 102, and (in a sense at least) 103 – had “specified the subject matter for which a patent could be obtained and recited conditions for patentability. In the new code, this section has been divided into two sections, section 101 relating to the subject matter for which a patent may be obtained, and section 102 which defines statutory novelty and states other conditions for patentability.” P.J. Federico, Commentary on the New Patent Act (emphasis added) (available at http://ipmall.info/hosted_resources/lipa/patents/federico-commentary.asp). Thus, as a principal architect of the act, Federico recognized that while Section 4886 had both “identified the subject matter for which a patent could be obtained,” and “recited conditions for patentability,” under the 1952 Act “section 101 relat[ed] to the subject matter for which a patent may be obtained” but “section 102 defines novelty and states other conditions for patentability [e.g., statutory bars to patentability].” Id. Further, Federico’s description is consistent with the reviser’s note to the 1952 act, which stated that the “existing statute is split into two sections, section 101 relating to the subject matter for which patents may be obtained, and section 102 defining statutory novelty and stating other conditions of patentability.”