The claims at issue in this patent application were directed to a method of conducting a wagering game using a standard deck of cards that are shuffled and dealt. The Federal Circuit affirmed the rejection of the claims under § 101 for claiming ineligible subject matter. The Federal Circuit held that the claims, which are directed to “fundamental economic practices” (wagering games being a method of exchanging and resolving financial obligations) claimed an abstract idea. Further, the fact that the claims require the shuffling and dealing of playing cards is insufficient to transform the claimed subject matter to a patent-eligible application of the abstract idea. The court further agreed that not all card games are foreclosed from patent protection. For example, a game using a new or original deck of cards could potentially be patent-eligible subject matter.
In re: Ray Smith, Amanda Tears Smith, Case No. 2015-1664 (March 10, 2016); Opinion by: Stoll, joined by Moore and Hughes; Appealed From: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Read the full opinion here.