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In re George Mizhen Wang (737 Fed. Appx. 534)

Representative Claim

1. 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

Posture:

Appeals from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in No. 2016-000264.

Abstract Idea: Yes

The Federal Circuit confirmed the PTAB’s Step One determination that the claims recite an abstract idea In explanation, the opinion states:

“Because the phonetic symbol system that is the subject of Mr. Wang’s claimed invention is not a ‘concrete thing,’ a ‘tangible article,’ or ‘a combination of two or more substances,’ it plainly does not meet the ‘physical or tangible form’ requirement of section 101.”

“Neither does the claimed invention qualify as a process under section 101 … As seen, Mr. Wang claims ‘[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.’ Significantly, none of the application claims on appeal requires an act or step or anything that must be performed.”

Something More: No

The Federal Circuit also confirmed the PTAB’s Step Two determination that “the application claims on appeal, however, contain no ‘additional features’ of any kind embodying an inventive concept.” In summary, the opinion states:

“Finally, where, as here, claims of a patent application recite an abstract idea, the question becomes whether they contain ‘additional features’ that embody an ‘inventive concept,’ so as to nevertheless make them patent-eligible. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347, 2357 (2014) (quoting Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 132 S. Ct. 1289, 1294, 1297 (2012)). The application claims on appeal, however, contain no ‘additional features’ of any kind embodying an inventive concept. The claims merely encompass strings of English letters representing sounds. In short, there is no inventive concept that rescues them from patent ineligibility.”