PTAB Finds Claims Directed to an MRI Machine Patent-Ineligible

Written by Scott Forbes and Jeremy Carney

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) recently held in Ex parte Itagaki andNishiara (PTAB 2016) that claims reciting a magnetic resonance imaging apparatus are directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. This ruling appears to broaden the scope of what qualifies as a “generic computer” and raises the question of whether a claim directed to an improvement to a specific apparatus, such as an MRI machine, can accurately be characterized as being directed to an abstract idea and not eligible as patentable subject matter.