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July 3, 2009

Gift from the Dead

5,761,645 claims a "system for enabling delivery of insurance gift payments" to beneficiaries. Owner Equitable Life & Casualty Insurance has sued rival American National Insurance over it, as part of an ongoing enforcement campaign. Other insurance companies have been taken to task over '645, and settled. The patent is likely invalid, for mixing claim types (system and method), as well as its obviousness.

Posted by Patent Hawk at July 3, 2009 9:40 PM | Litigation

Comments

Mixing claim types? What made you think that???

This is claim 1:

1. A system for enabling delivery of insurance gift payments that an insurer is to make to designated beneficiaries on behalf of insureds, the system comprising:
input means for receiving at least information regarding at least one insured, at least one insurance gift plan, at least one occasion or date to send each gift, at least one message to send with the gift, and at least one beneficiary, said input means associated with means for entering received information into a storage device, and for accessing and modifying information stored in said storage device;
calculating and formatting means, responsive to said input means, for processing stored information, and creating insurance plan tables and schedules;
processing means, responsive to the calculating and formatting means, for determining an amount for each gift payment, and, after the insured has died, determining when each message and gift are to be sent to arrive for the occasion or date; and
output means, responsive to the processing means, for providing information stored in the storage device in formatted form.

I have no idea whether or not it is obvious, but I don't seethe mixing of claim types.

Posted by: Passing through at July 4, 2009 5:22 AM

Hawk, the determining step here is merely an intended use of a processing means, perhaps helping to defining a specific processor in the specification through 112 6th. I don't think it is a separate step. However, it may turn out to be, according to the spec.

I would respectfully say that if this is the claim to which you refer, this claim does not contain method steps in its apparatus claim. But I could be wrong based on what the spec says.

Posted by: 6 at July 4, 2009 3:21 PM

That said, if the claim were under examination, it might get a 112 2nd for having more than one interpretation being possible, a la Myazaki.

Posted by: 6 at July 4, 2009 3:22 PM

Mixing claim types? This is the latest garbage from the PTO that should not be indulged.

There is nothing wrong with functional limitations in an apparatus claim. Further, any claim to be worth its salt must be susceptible to a range of interpretations, if, by "interpretations" one means scope.

The problem with Miyazaki was not that more than one interpretation was possible, but an infinite number of interpretations were possible because there was no common reference established between the device placement and the user placement. Miyazaki was a case of poor claims draftsmanship.

Posted by: Just sayin' at July 5, 2009 6:55 AM

"The problem with Miyazaki was not that more than one interpretation was possible, but an infinite number of interpretations were possible because there was no common reference established between the device placement and the user placement."

That was the first issue. Proceed to the next one.

"Mixing claim types? This is the latest garbage from the PTO that should not be indulged."

See hawk's peice on IPXL holdings. It's from your near and dear courts, not the pto.

Posted by: 6000 at July 5, 2009 2:37 PM