Decided: March 18, 2009
This is the first decision from Technology Center 3600 to appear on the Watchdog. Technology Center 3600 deals with "Business Method" patents. I find it notable that there is no discussion of 101 and the Board did not issue a new 101 rejection. There is also some interesting discussion around "teaching away" that might be the subject of a later post.
The technology at issue is methods and systems for streamlining and simplifying the online ordering process while affording the customer and/or other authorized persons the convenience of modifying or canceling the order after the initial commitment to order the product has been made.
Claim 1 of the application at issue recites:
A computer-implemented method of processing an online purchase request from a customer to a vendor over a computer network, comprising the steps of:
receiving, over the computer network, a first online purchase request for a first item;
responsive to receiving the first online purchase request, providing a bifurcated order processing route that requests the customer to choose a first order processing route causing the first online purchase request to be processed according to an express processing procedure that requires no further input by the customer to execute the first online purchase request, the second order processing route causing the first online purchasing request to be placed in a shopping cart that allows one or more additional purchase requests for additional items to be placed therein, the second order processing route affording the customer an opportunity to cause execution of the first and any additional purchase requests placed in the shopping card to be processed according to the express ordering processing that requires no further input by the customer to execute, and
receiving from the customer a selection of the first order processing route or the second order processing route and processing the first online purchase request according to the customer’s selection.
The Examiner rejected this claim under 103. That was the issue on appeal. Surprisingly, there is no discussion of the "machine or transform" test.
I took a look at the application. Paragraph  includes the following sentence: "[w]ithin the context of the present invention, a "shopping cart" is a metaphor for a software construct enabling a customer to aggregate his or her online purchases for immediate or a later purchase."
Based on some of the Board's previous decisions, doesn't such a definition raise some eyebrows?
Also interesting, when compared against some of the other Board decisions previously discussed, is Paragraph , which states:
The present invention is related to the use of computing device 700 to process a customer purchase request. According to one embodiment, the processing may be carried out by one or more computing devices 700 in response to processor(s) 702 executing sequences of instructions contained in memory 704. Such instructions may be read into memory 704 from another computer-readable medium, such as data storage device 707 and/or from a remotely located server. Execution of the sequences of instructions contained in memory 704 causes processor(s) 702 to implement the functionality described above. In alternative embodiments, hard-wired circuitry may be used in place of or in combination with software instructions to implement the present invention. Thus, the present invention is not limited to any specific combination of hardware circuitry and software.
One could argue, that claim 1 could be directed to a "software" per se embodiment, which some panels have rejected under 101.
Also, what about previous Board decisions that used the guidelines set forth in MPEP § 2106(IV)(C)(2)(2)(a), that state claims must be amended to recite solely statutory subject matter?