Grüneberg and Myers - Intellectual Property Law


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Phonetic Symbol System Sounds Like an Abstract Idea

The Fed. Cir. (In re Wang)  affirmed the Board's decision that claims to a phonetic symbol system were an unpatentable abstract idea. Claim 1 read as follows: A phonetic symbol system comprising:a plurality of phonetic symbols, wherein each of said phonetic symbols is defined by one or more than one letter of English alphabet, the case or the style of said letter does not affect the sounds of said phonetic symbols, there are vowel phonetic symbols and consonant phonetic symbols of said phonetic symbols, each vowel is distinctively represented by one of said vowel phonetic symbols, and each consonant is distinctively represented by one of said consonant phonetic symbols. The phonetic symbol system was found not to be any of a “concrete thing,” a “tangible article,” or “a combination of two or more substances,” and did not meet the “physical or tangible form” requirement of section 101.  Analysis as qualifying as a process under section 101 found that none of the application claims on appeal required an act or step or anything that must be performed.  Finally the application claims on appeal, contained no “additional features” of any kind embodying an inventive concept.  

Richard Chinn