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Amdoc (Israel) Ltd. v. Openet Telecom, Inc., Federal Circuit Nov. 1 2016

Amdoc sued Openet over four patents directed to solving accounting and billing problems faced by network service providers. The district court held that the patents were directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas.

A split panel of the Federal Circuit reversed.

Each patent’s written description describes the same system, which allows network service providers to account for and bill for internet protocol (“IP”) network communications. The system includes network devices; information source modules (“ISMs”); gatherers; a central event manager (“CEM”); a central database; a user interface server; and terminals or clients. Network devices represent any devices that could be included on a network, including application servers, and also represent the source of information accessed by the ISMs. The ISMs act as an interface between the…

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Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corp., Trend Micro Incorporated, Federal Circuit 2016

It is bad enough that the Supreme Court doesn’t know what it is doing when it comes to software patents. In Alice v CLS, they considered a financial patent that could have easily been invalidated on the grounds of obviousness, and instead invalidated it based on subject matter (35 U.S.C. 101). They didn’t say that financial methods cannot be patented. They did not say that software cannot be patented. They used a vague framework from a biotech decision. The courts now use an unclear test that involves considering whether the subject matter of the claim is “too abstract” and, if so, whether the claims add “significantly more”.  Neither of these concepts were well defined.   I suppose they were hoping for judicial…

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McRo, Inc., dba Planet Blue v. Bandai Namco Games America, post-Alice decision finding computer-implemented invention patentable, Federal Circuit 2016

This was an appeal from a grant of judgment on the pleadings that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,307,576 (‘‘the ’576 patent’’) and 6,611,278 (‘‘the ’278 patent’’) are invalid.

The patents relate to automating part of a preexisting 3-D animation method. A prior art method uses multiple 3-D models of a character’s face to depict various facial expressions made during speech. To animate the character as it speaks, the method morphs the character’s expression between the models. The “neutral model” is the 3-D representation of the resting, neutral facial expression of an animated character. The other models of the character’s face are known as “morph targets,” and each one represents that face as it…

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BASCOM Global Internet Services v AT&T Mobility, post-Alice decision finding computer-implemented invention patentable, Federal Circuit 2016

This was an appeal against a district court decision that the claims of U.S.
Patent No. 5,987,606 are invalid as a matter of law under
35 U.S.C. § 101.

The patent relates to preventing the problem of employees from accessing non-work related web sites, such as entertainment web sites, at work. The patent describes its invention as combining the advantages of the then-known filtering tools while avoiding the drawbacks. The claimed filtering system avoids being modified or thwarted by a computer literate end-user, and avoids being installed on and dependent on individual end-user hardware and operating systems or tied to a single local area network or a local server platform…

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In re: TLI Communications LLC Patent Litigation, Federal Circuit 2016

TLI Communications hold U.S. Patent No. 6,038,295 relating to a method and system for taking, transmitting, and organizing digital images.

The patent relates generally to an apparatus for recording of a digital image, communicating the digital image from the recording device to a storage device, and to administering the digital image in the storage device. The specification notes that a “wide variety of data types” can be transmitted, including audio and image stills.  Moreover, cellular telephones may be utilized for image transmissions.   When a large number of digital images are recorded and are to be archived in a central computer unit, then the organization of the data base becomes a problem, according to the patent.  In particular, the problems of locating the data of an image…

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Enfish v Microsoft, Federal Circuit 2016

Enfish sued Microsoft for infringement of U.S. Patent 6,151,604 and U.S. Patent 6,163,775 related to a logical model for a computer database. A logical model is a model of data for a computer database explaining how the various elements of information are related to one another. A logical model generally results in the creation of particular tables of data, but it does not describe how the bits and bytes of those tables are arranged in physical memory devices. Contrary to conventional logical models, the patented logical model includes all data entities in a single table, with column definitions provided by rows in that same table. The patents describe this as a “self-referential” property of the database.

This self-referential property can be best understood in contrast with…

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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Examples of Abstract Idea Claims

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published examples of claims that are patent eligible and claims that are not patent eligible. The examples show how claims should be analyzed under the 2014 Interim Eligibility Guidance, discussed in a post below. All of the claims are analyzed for eligibility in accordance with their broadest reasonable interpretation.

Patent Eligible Claims

Example 1: Isolating and Removing Malicious Code from Electronic Messages

The invention relates to isolating and removing malicious code from email to prevent a computer from being compromised, for example by being infected with a computer virus. The specification explains the need for computer systems to scan electronic communications for malicious computer code and clean the electronic communication before it may initiate malicious acts….

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Post-Alice Decision on 35 U.S.C. 101, Content Extraction and Transmission v Wells Fargo, Federal Circuit, Dec. 2014

CET owns patents that generally recite a method of 1) extracting data
from hard copy documents using an automated digitizing
unit such as a scanner, 2) recognizing specific information
from the extracted data, and 3) storing that information
in a memory. This method can be performed by software
on an automated teller machine (ATM) that recognizes
information written on a scanned check, such as the
check’s amount, and populates certain data.

One of the claims recites:
A method of processing information from a diversity
of types of hard copy documents, said method
comprising the steps of:
(a) receiving output representing a diversity
of types of hard copy documents from
an automated digitizing unit and storing
information from said diversity of types of
hard copy documents into a memory, said
information not fixed from one document
to the next, said receiving step not…

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December 16, 2014 Interim Guidelines on Subject Matter Eligibility

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has prepared interim guidance (2014 Interim Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility, called “Interim Eligibility Guidance”) for use by USPTO personnel in determining subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101 in view of recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court) such as Alice, Myriad, and Mayo.

The guidelines provide the following flowchart:

(Step 1) Is the claim to a process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter?
If so, proceed to Step 2A. If not, the claim is not eligible subject matter under 35 USC 101.

(Step 2A) Is the claim directed to a law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or an abstract idea (judicially recognized exceptions)?. If so, proceed…

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Post-Alice Decision on 35 U.S.C. 101, Software Patent Held Statutory, DDR Holdings, LLC v. Hotels.com, L.P. , Federal Circuit 2014

This is an important recent case in the history of software patents.

Defendants National Leisure Group, Inc. and World Travel Holdings, Inc. (collectively “NLG” hereafter) appealed from a judgment of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in which a judgment was entered in favor of DDR.  A jury found that defendants infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 6,993,572 and 7,818,399, that the claims were valid, and awarded $750,000 in damages.  On appeal to the Federal Circuit, the asserted claims of the ‘572 patent were held to be anticipated and vacated the award of damages and prejudgment interest.

On the other hand, the Federal Circuit found that the ‘399 patent included patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101, and that the claims were valid…

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