米国の一地方都市で特許事務所を経営する米国パテントエージェント兼日本弁理士が日々の業務で体験した事、感じた事を綴っています。

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賭けゲームの発明の適格性 (米国特許法101条要件)-その2-

前回の続きです。

最近の判例で、ゲーム関連の発明について、裁判所(CAFC)が、「クレームに記載された発明は、経済活動(商取引)のような抽象的な概念であり、米国特許法101条の要件(発明の適格性)を満たさない。」という特許庁(USPTO)の見解を支持した事例です(“In re: Ray Smith, Amanda Tears Smith事件”)。

同事件において、問題となり(拒絶され)、裁判所においても101条要件を満たさないと認定されたクレームの例↓

10. A method of conducting a wagering game comprising:
i) a dealer providing at least one deck of
j) physical playing cards and shuffling the physical playing cards to form a random set of physical playing cards;
k) a dealer accepting at least one first wager from each participating player on a player game hand against a banker's/dealer's hand;
l) a dealer dealing only two cards from the random set of physical playing cards to each designated player and two cards from the random set of physical playing cards to the banker/dealer such that the designated player and the banker/dealer receive the same number of exactly two cards; m) The dealer examining respective hands to determine in any hand has a Natural 0 count from totaling count from cards, defined as the first two cards in a hand being a pair of 5's, 10's, jacks, queens or kings;
n) The dealer resolving any player versus dealer wagers between each individual player hand that has a Natural 0 count and between the dealer hand and all player hands where a Natural 0 is present in the dealer hand, while the dealer exposes only a single card to the players, wherein the each player not having a Natural 0 loses the first wager against a dealer Natural 0, and each player having a Natural 0 winning at least 1.5/1 against a dealer not having a Natural 0;
o) as between each player and the dealer where neither hand has a Natural 0, the dealer allowing each player to elect to take a maximum of one additional card from the random set of physical playing cards or standing pat on the initial two card playe r hand, while having seen only one dealer card;
p) the dealer/banker remaining pat within a first certain predetermined total counts and being required to take a single hit within a second predetermined total counts from totaling count from cards, where the first total counts range does not overlap the second total counts range;
q) after all possible additional cards have been dealt from the random set of physical playing cards, the dealer comparing a value of each designated player's hand from totaling count from cards to a final value of the banker's/dealer's hand from totaling count from cards wherein said value of the designated player's hand and the banker's/dealer's hand is in a range of zero to nine points based on a pre-established scoring system wherein aces count as one point, tens and face cards count as zero points and all other cards count as their face value and wherein a two-digit hand total is deemed to have a value corresponding to the one's digit of the two-digit total;
r) the dealer resolving the wagers based on whether the designated player's hand or the banker's/dealer's hand is nearest to a value of 0.

審査段階において補正で導入され、(審査官から)特許許可の認定を受けたクレームの例↓

20. A method of conducting a wagering game on a video gaming system comprising a processor, a video display and a player input controls comprising:
a) a processor acting as a dealer providing at least one virtual deck of playing cards;
b) the processor recognizing at least one first wager from a player input position participating in a player game hand against a banker's/dealer's hand;
c) the processor dealing only two virtual cards from the virtual set of playing cards to the player input position where a first wager has been recognized and two cards from the virtual set of playing cards to the banker/dealer such that the player input position and the banker/dealer receive the same number of exactly two cards;
d) the processor examining respective hands to determine in any hand has a Natural 0 count from totaling count of the virtual cards, defined as the first two cards in a hand being a pair of 5's, 10's, jacks, queens or kings;
e) the processor resolving any player versus dealer wagers between each individual player input position hand that has a Natural 0 count from totaling the virtual cards and between the dealer hand and all player input position hands where a Natural 0 is present in the dealer hand from totaling the virtual cards, while the dealer exposes only a single virtual card to the player input position, wherein the each player input position not having a Natural 0 loses the first wager against a dealer Natural 0, and each player input position having a Natural 0 winning at least 1.5/1 against a dealer not having a Natural 0;
f) as between each player input position and the dealer where neither hand has a Natural 0, the processor allowing each player input position to elect to take a maximum of one additional card from the virtual set of playing cards or standing pat on the initial two card player hand, while having seen only one dealer card;
g) the processor requiring the dealer/banker remaining pat within a first certain predetermined total counts and being required to take a single hit within a second predetermined total counts, where the first total counts range does not overlap the second total counts range;
h) after all possible additional cards have been dealt from the virtual set of playing cards, the processor comparing a value of each designated player's input position hand to a final value of the banker's/dealer's hand wherein said value of the designated player's input position hand and the banker's/dealer's hand is in a range of zero to nine points based on a pre-established scoring system wherein aces count as one point, tens and face cards count as zero points and all other cards count as their face value and wherein a two-digit hand total is deemed to have a value corresponding to the one's digit of the two-digit total;
i) the dealer resolving the wagers based on whether the designated player's hand or the banker's/dealer's hand is nearest to a value of 0.

Claim 10は、出願当初からあったもので、補正はされたけれど本質的な内容に大きな変更はない。Claim 20は、101条要件違反を理由に拒絶を受けたClaim 10の各構成要素(ゲームの手順)が、コンピュータのプロセッサーによって実行される事を明確にしたものを、New Claimとし中間処理(オフィスアクションに対する応答)で導入されたものだ。より具体的には、クレーム発明の実質的な内容であるゲームの各手順を、コンピュータのプロセッサーがディーラーの役割を担うように実行する、という形式にクレームを書き換えたのがClaim 20だ(クレーム中のイタリック体部分を参照)。その結果、審査官は、Claim20に対しあっさりと特許許可可能の認定を行っている。

最近のソフトウエア関連発明に対する101条要件の対処にヒントを与えてくれる事案かと、一瞬期待した...

が、とりあえず結論だけを述べると、この事例は、ここ1~2年の間に激変したソフトウエア関連発明の101条要件のハードルをクリアする方策を探る上では、恐らく殆ど参考にならないと思う...(´ρ`)  

期待させてすみません。私も大いに期待して検討したのですが...m(_ _)m

理由は至って単純ですが、次回、説明致します。

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中西康一郎 (Koichiro Nakanishi)

Author:中西康一郎 (Koichiro Nakanishi)
日本の特許事務所、企業知財部勤務の経験を経た後に渡米し、米国の特許法律事務所に8年勤務後、米国テキサス州ヒューストンにおいて、日本企業の米国特許出願代理を専門とする代理人事務所(Nakanishi IP Associates, LLC)を開設しました。2016年5月、事務所を米国カリフォルニア州サクラメントに移転しました。

現在、Nakanishi IP Assocites, LLC 代表

資格:
日本弁理士
米国パテントエージェント

事務所名:Nakanishi IP Associates, LLC
所在地:
6929 Sunrise Blvd. Suite 102D
Citrus Heights, California 95610, USA

Website:
Nakanishi IP Associates, LLC

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