Federal Circuit Denies En Banc Hearing of ChargePoint v. SemaConnect

On July 23, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied a petition for en banc rehearing of ChargePoint, Inc. v. SemaConnect, Inc., Case No.: 18-1739, by ChargePoint.

ChargePoint asked the full appellate court to reevaluate a determination of subject matter ineligibility for their four patents related to networked charging stations for electric vehicles.

Former Deputy USPTO Director Russel Silfer, who filed an amicus brief, has been one of the biggest critics of the ruling and its seeming incongruity with Supreme Court case law, e.g., the warning against allowing §101 to swallow all of patent law.

Silfer said:

The ChargePoint panel found the asserted claims involved “the abstract idea of communicating requests to a remote server and receiving communications from that server, i.e., communication over a network” …

ChargePoint’s patents clearly provide improved vehicle charging stations over prior art stations by including more hardware components to allow more sophisticated management of the vehicle charging operation. Yet, under the second Alice step the panel merely characterized the electrical components of the claimed charging station (for example controllable switch, transceiver, controller) as … “the claims merely add generic networking capabilities to those charging stations and say ‘apply it.’ This is simply an abstract-idea-based solution implemented with generic technical components in a conventional way.”

This is not the test set forth in Alice. If it is, we definitely need Congress to fix 101 now!

The CAFC had an opportunity to fix ChargePoint and passed on it.

A “mandate of the court will issue on July 30, 2019” and perhaps could bring some clarification on rationale for a decision against rehearing.