In re Noble Systems Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2020)
So far in 2020, the Federal Circuit has issued judgment on 30+ appeals from the USPTO. The majority of these issued without opinion under the Federal Circuit’s “Rule 36” that allows for no-opinion judgments. In this case, the court changed tack and instead issued a two-sentence opinion. Although short, this is better than non opinion at all:
In this case, the Board affirmed the Examiner’s rejection of claims 1–7 and 9–21 of U.S. Patent Application No. 13/950,907. We affirm the Board on the ground that the claims are patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
Although not expressly stated, by affirming on eligibility, the Federal Circuit did not affirm the PTAB’s parallel finding of obviousness based upon a single prior art reference. In this situation, the creation of an opinion actually creates a greater preclusive impact on the patent applicant than would have existed otherwise. R.36 judgments on the other hand are only seen as preclusive as to issues necessary for the final judgment.
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The claims at issue are software code that the PTAB found to be directed to “providing e-learning training content to an agent in a call center” which is nothing “other than an abstract idea of organizing human activity.”
18. A tangible computer-readable storage medium comprising instructions that when executed by a computer processor, cause the computer processor to:
receive input identifying an agent to receive a training course where the input comprises an agent identifier, a training course identifier of the training course;
generate training context data comprising a logical association of the agent identifier, the training course identifier;
determine whether the agent is to be provided the training course as fixed-time training or flex-time training, and
if the training course is to be provided as fixed-time training, then request a schedule module in a workforce management system (“WFM”) to schedule a start time for a training session for the agent,
wherein the WFM is configured to  generate a first beginning-of-training indicator to an e-learning module comprising the computer processor at the start time of the training session, and  generate a second beginning-of-training indicator to a call handling system,
wherein the call handling system ceases offering calls to the agent in response to receiving the second beginning-of-training indicator.