Today, Fri., Mar. 2, 2012, in MySpace v. Graphon, No. 2011-1149, the Federal Circuit (Newman, Mayer (dissenting) and Plager) affirmed summary judgment that patent claims directed to accessing a database over a network were invalid as anticipated or obvious over the prior art.

The majority ruled that classic Section 102, 103 and 112 invalidity defenses typically should be considered before the abstract Section 101 patentable subject matter defense, because those defenses had more specific criteria and developed legal standards.  Judge Mayer dissented, because he viewed the breadth of the claims as violating Section 101, which he considered a threshold issue.

This decision provides an interesting policy-based discussion of the abstract Section 101 patentable subject matter defense.  This decision also indicates judicial movement to avoid the defense becoming a problematic “toss-in” defense like inequitable conduct.