Nodal, Session 3, Follow-Up

Nodal, Session 3, considered the rejection under 35 USC 101 in PTAB Appeal No. 2020-006023.  Viewers will know we recommended amending Claim 1 to incorporate dependent Claim 7 to try to overcome the 101 rejection.

The 31-minute session did not address the rejection of Claim 1 under 35 USC 103 as unpatentable over the Lawrence et al. publication in view of the Monk, II et al. publication.  There, the PTAB reversed the Examiner, finding that Lawrence contemplates parsing information, but does not disclose in para. [0111] using “natural language processing.”  Slip op. at 19.

As acknowledged by Applicant and the PTAB, Lawrence additionally discloses, “Natural language processing techniques may further be used to identify the presence of risk-relevant information.”   Lawrence, para. [0176].  However, the PTAB found this Lawrence disclosure “refers to identifying certain information[,] not to extracting.”  Slip op. at 19.

If Applicant continues prosecution, the Examiner might consider whether it would have been obvious to modify the Lawrence parsing to include natural language processing.  At the time of this writing, the Examiner has not made such a rejection.  So, our consideration is purely hypothetical: whether (and how) the Examiner can establish a prima facie case of obviousness depends on the references or rationale provided by the Examiner.

How might Applicant amend the claim preemptively?

1. A method, in a data processing system comprising a processor and a memory, for processing natural language feeds to software, the method comprising

receiving, by the data processing system, a natural language feed including data that is representative of parameters and quantitative data from government or regulatory body data sources;

parsing, by the data processing system, the natural language feed with natural language processing for features that correspond to a production system;

converting, by the data processing system, the parsed natural language feed into software functions;

assigning, by the data processing system, risk weights and ratings to the parameters and quantitative data; and

calibrating, by the data processing system, the production system by updating a data library using the software functions and integrating information from the data library with the production system, wherein calibrating the production system further comprises

identifying, by the data processing system, a change in at least one of the risk weights associated with one or more risk components associated with an entity’s operations based on the software functions; and

calculating, by the data processing system, an aggregate risk score for an entity based on the risk weights and ratings.

This proposed amendment is essentially a combination of Claim 1 with dependent Claims 3-4 and 7.  Claim 4, relating to the aggregate risk score, was included based on suggested advantages of that subject matter.  E.g., PGPUB, para. [0030] (“The risk assessment may further include a comparison of aggregate risk scores or ratings of the entity’s operations or products before and after the natural language feed.”).  Claim 4 depends from and basically requires Claim 3, which relates to assigning the risk weights and ratings.  So, Claim 3 probably should be incorporated into Claim 1, as well.

The final Office Action rejected Claim 4 primarily over para. [0014] of Lawrence.  Office Action at 11.  The cited portion of Lawrence describes aggregating risk by rating.  Lawrence, para. [0014].  Such an aggregation is not necessarily based on risk weights and ratings assigned to the parameters and quantitative data recited in proposed amended Claim 1.

Incorporating Claims 3-4 also might overcome the subject matter eligibility rejection of Claim 1 under 35 USC 101.  So, is it sufficient to amend Claim 1 to include only Claims 3-4?  That is, because Claim 7 does not on its own contribute to overcoming the 103 rejection, should it be maintained in dependent form?

After some consideration, proposed amended Claim 1 should probably also include Claim 7.  First, although a patent attorney might believe Claims 3-4 overcome the eligibility rejection, it seems unlikely an Examiner would agree.  In contrast, Claim 7 seems substantially more likely to overcome the eligibility rejection and especially in combination with Claims 3-4.

Indeed, the application explains,

Performing risk assessments may further include risk assessment module 202 calculating an overall change in risk assessment or rating of the operations of the entity from a change in the operations based on new parameters. Calculating the overall change may include identifying a change in at least one of risk weight values associated with one or more risk components of the entity’s operations and products. A change in the at least one of the risk weight value may indicate a new or unknown potential issue (e.g., threat, vulnerability, or incident) related to the entity, for example, a plurality of threats related to the operational integrity of the entity (e.g., spam pushing and pharming . . . , etc.).

PGPUB, para. [0021].  Thus, the application apparently ties the advantageous indication of the new issue to the calculation of the overall change (e.g., Claim 4) and its inclusion of the identification of the risk weight change (e.g., Claim 7).

As a final thought, this application seems likely to have an extended prosecution.  So, we think a fairly aggressive approach is merited.

If Modal can assist you with this type of analysis, please contact us.

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