Recently, the PTAB declined to institute a covered business method patent review of claims of a public key encryption patent finding that the patent was not a covered business method patent pursuant to the statutory definition in section 18(d)(1) of the AIA. In general, the claims of the patent describe methods for portions of the entire process that uses public key encryption to certify secure electronic communications. The petitioner argued that public key certificates are used in nearly all electronic financial transactions, and therefore, the patent is directed to an “activity that is incidental to” financial processing. The board found, however, that the claims “have general utility not limited or specific to any application.” “[F]or purposes of determining whether a patent is eligible for review as a CBM patent, we focus on the claims,” the board wrote. In addition, the board found nothing in the specification “that particularly limits the invention to the financial services sector.” The board agreed with the patent owner “that electronic transactions, escrow agencies, clearing houses, and notaries are not specific to financial transactions and cover various types of transactions separate from financial transactions.” The board therefore determined that the patent did not show anything that is directed to “a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service” or “activities that are financial in nature, incidental to a financial activity or complementary to a financial activity.”

The board has recently constricted its interpretation of the covered business method requirement in instituting CBM reviews. In a decision on a another petition for CBM review, the board similarly rejected an argument that a patent directed to the management of regulatory changes for business activities was related to the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service. See, Inc. v. Applications in Internet Time, LLC, CBM2014-00168 (PTAB Feb. 2, 2015).

J.P Morgan Chase v. Intellectual Ventures II LLC, CBM2014-00160 (PTAB Jan. 29, 2015).