In Re Rudy, No. 19-2301 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
In 1989, Rudy originally filed the 360 application, entitled “Eyeless, Knotless, Colorable and/or Translucent/Transparent Fishing Hooks with Associatable Apparatus and Methods.” Its lengthy prosecution included numerous amendments and petitions, and four Board appeals. In 2014, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the obviousness of all claims then on appeal. Several claims were the subject of a 2015 office action in which the Examiner rejected them as ineligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. 101. The Board upheld the determination.
The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that it was applying its own law and the relevant Supreme Court precedent, not the Office Guidance, in analyzing subject matter eligibility. Claim 34 is directed to the abstract idea of selecting a fishing hook based on observed water conditions; its three elements (observing water clarity, measuring light transmittance, and selecting the color of the hook) are each abstract, being mental processes akin to data collection or analysis. Claim 34 fails to recite an inventive concept at step two of the “Alice/Mayo test,” and.nothing in the remaining claims meaningfully distinguishes them from claim 34 in a patent eligibility analysis.