In Re Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, No. 20-1288 (Fed. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Stanford’s 2012 patent application is directed to computerized statistical methods for determining haplotype phase. A haplotype phase acts as an indication of the parent from whom a gene has been inherited. The written description explains that accurately estimating haplotype phase based on genotype data obtained through sequencing an individual’s genome “plays pivotal roles in population and medical genetic studies.” The application is directed to methods for inferring haplotype phase in a collection of unrelated individuals.
The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s final rejection of the patent claims, applying the two-step “Alice” analysis to determine patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101 and finding that the claims involve patent-ineligible subject matter. The rejected claims are drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling, and similar subject matter that is not patent-eligible. The improvement in computational accuracy alleged by Stanford does not qualify as an improvement to a technological process; rather, it is merely an enhancement to the abstract mathematical calculation of haplotype phase itself.