Decided: March 11, 2009
This decision continues the BPAI string of 101 rejections where the claims can cover both statutory and nonstatutory subject matter.
The claim at issue in this decision recited:
1. A method of enabling display of a simulated facial image, the method comprising:The applicant provided the following discussion in her specification regarding certain words in the claims.
 facilitating display,
 enabling selection of at least one of the displayed templates; and
- on a display device,
- of a plurality of templates,
- wherein at least some of the templates are representative of a portion of a face having a simulation of use of a beauty product;
 facilitating display,
- on the display device,
- of a simulated facial image
- including at least one displayed facial portion having a simulation of use of a beauty product,
- wherein the displayed facial portion having a simulation of the simulated facial image corresponds to a facial portion of the at least one selected template, and
- wherein the simulation of the displayed facial portion corresponds to a simulation of the at least one selected template.
Enabling the image to be displayed may be accomplished in one or more of a variety of direct and indirect ways, including directly displaying the image on a display device, providing access to software that facilitates display, providing network access which enables display of the image on a user-controlled device, providing a dedicated use device, or cooperating with an entity who either directly displays the image or who helps the user to display the image.The Examiner rejected this claim and those that depended from it as failing under 101. The Examiner reason, based on the above definitions, that the method steps of facilitating display and enabling selection did not require the actual display or selection step to be performed. Thus they could be understood as merely having an idea about how to arrange the selection of the information.
As with the definition of "enabling display" above, the term "applying" and "selecting" are also to be interpreted as including direct and indirect actions, such as, for example, providing access to software, providing access to a network site, cooperating with a third party who aids a user, or by participating in any way in activities that aid a user in applying and selecting.
During the appeal, the applicant argued that the reference to direct activities made the claim statutory.
Not surprising, the Board agreed with the Examiner and confirmed the 101 rejection. They explained that during examination claims are given their broadest reasonable construction that is consistent with the specification. Relying on the above passages, the Board agreed that the applicant acted as her own lexicographer. They determined that the limitations of enabling and facilitating in the three steps of claim 1 to include indirect activity such as providing access to software, providing access to a network site, cooperating with a third party who aids a user, or by participating in any way in activities that aid a user in what is enabled or facilitated. The BPAI concluded that broadest reasonable construction would not necessarily include that performance within the scope of the three steps in claim 1.
Using these definitions, the BPAI applied Bilski's machine or transform test. Their analysis stated that:
[t]hese process claims recite a series of process steps that are not necessarily tied in any manner to a machine, because the scope of the steps also reach activities that do no more than provide some access or aid. In other words, these claims do not limit the process steps to any specific machine or apparatus. Thus, the claims fail the first branch of the machine-or-transformation test because they are not tied to a particular machine or apparatus. The steps of these process claims also fail the second branch of the machine-or-transformation test because nothing must be transformed, not even data, when the steps are construed as encompassing no more than providing access or aiding. Thus, the process of claim 1 fails the machine-or-transformation test and is not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.