Scott Daniels | April 5, 2010

The PTO Board has affirmed the rejection of most of the claims of Ronald Katz’ U.S. Patent 6,292,547.  The ‘547 patent is entitled “TELEPHONIC-INTERFACE STATISTICAL ANALYSIS SYSTEM” and is part of a substantial patent portfolio owned by Katz covering interactive voice response devices and methods for use in a range of communication systems, including public telephone networks.  The ‘547 patent mentions polling, auction, lottery, game and mail order uses.

The ‘547 patent has been licensed to numerous companies and is the subject of 32 District Court cases, most of which are still pending.  The defendants in those cases range across U.S. economy, including numerous telecommunications, utility and brokerage companies.

Most of the ‘547 claims were found by the Board to be anticipated by and/or obvious over the prior art.  A major issue for the obviousness rejections was whether the examiner’s prima facie case was overcome by evidence of commercial success.  The Board acknowledged that the claimed interactive “systems are commercially successful in many applications,” but found that Katz owns 42 patents each claiming benefit of the original 1985 application that led to the ‘547 patent, and that Katz did not “make any effort to show any nexus between the commercial success in the IVR Report and the merits of the ‘547 patent claims as opposed to the subject matter of the other patents.”

Only dependent claims 40-41 and 48-50 were found by the Board to be patentable over the prior art.  Those claims were limited to inventory control or to data regarding item size or color.  The Board concluded that the two references relied upon by the examiner were from such distinct arts, that there was no reason to combine them in a manner to achieve the claimed systems.

We expect that Katz will appeal to the CAFC.

The present reexamination was initiated by the Director of the PTO in March 2004 and was later merged with an ex parte reexamination requested by an anonymous third party.

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