Monday, September 21, 2015

Directional Drilling Patents Not Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

The court denied defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings that plaintiff's directional drilling patents were invalid for lack of patentable subject matter and found that the claims were not directed toward an abstract idea. "[Plaintiff] asserts that its patented technology eliminates the guess work previously inherent in directional drilling. [Plaintiff] asserts that its patented method of rotating or oscillating the drill string to a predetermined angle enables drillers to control the rotation of the drill string instantly and automatically while drilling, increasing the accuracy of the directional drilling process. . . . Contrary to Defendant’s argument, [plaintiff's] patent claims in this case are not an attempt to patent the abstract concept of rotation. . . . The claims in [plaintiff's] patents address specific challenges in directional drilling through a concrete process for controlling the rotation of the long drill strings to and between predetermined angles. The patent claims are directed to a physical apparatus and drilling process of controlled rotation by a specific amount (the predetermined angle). Such tangible, industrial processes have long been considered eligible to receive patent protection. . . . Although rotation in isolation is an abstract concept, [plaintiff's] patented process uses controlled rotation within predetermined angles to orient and oscillate a drill string. This eliminates the guess work, and resulting inaccuracies, inherent in the prior method of directional drilling."

Canrig Drilling Technology Ltd. v. Trinidad Drilling Ltd. et al, 4-15-cv-00656 (TXSD September 17, 2015, Order) (Atlas, J.)

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