Section 101 Eligibility
Subscribe to Section 101 Eligibility's Posts

Standard Computer Equipment Can Support Inventive Concept under Alice Step 2

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a district court dismissal of a patent case for errors in analyzing the claims’ patent eligibility under Alice. The Court found that regardless of whether the claimed invention was abstract under step 1, the invention claimed specific improvements rendering it patent eligible under step 2. Cooperative Entertainment, Inc. v. Kollective Technology, Inc., Case No. 21-2167 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 28, 2022) (Moore, C.J.; Lourie, Stark, JJ.)

Cooperative Entertainment sued Kollective Technology for infringement of several claims of Cooperative’s patent directed to structuring a peer-to-peer (P2P) dynamic network for distributing large files. After Kollective filed a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) arguing that all of the patent claims were ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101, Cooperative filed an amended complaint. Kollective refiled its motion to dismiss, and the district court granted the motion, holding the challenged claims ineligible under § 101. Cooperative appealed.

The patent relates to systems and methods of structuring a P2P dynamic network for distributing large files, specifically videos and video games. The patent specification explains that in prior art systems, video streaming was controlled by content distribution networks (CDNs), with content “distributed directly from the CDN server originating the content.” In contrast, the challenged claims recite methods and systems for a network in which content distribution occurs “outside controlled networks and/or [CDNs]” (emphasis added), and therefore outside a “static network of controlled systems.” Dynamic P2P networks comprising “peer nodes,” which consume the same content contemporaneously, transmit content directly to each other instead of receiving content from the CDN. The claimed P2P networks use “content segmentation” to segment a video file into smaller clips and distribute it piecemeal. Viewers can obtain individual segments as needed, preferably from other viewers. The disclosed segmentation techniques include “CDN address resolution, trace route to CDN and the P2P server manager, dynamic feedback from peers reporting traffic rates between individual peer and its neighbors, round-robin, other server side scheduling/resource allocation techniques, and combinations thereof” (emphasis in original).

The Federal Circuit applied the two-step Alice framework: (1) determining whether the claim is “directed to” a “patent-ineligible concept,” such as an abstract idea, and if it is, (2) examining “the elements of the claim to determine whether it contains an ‘inventive concept’ sufficient to ‘transform’ the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application.” Step 2 examines whether the claim elements, individually and as an ordered combination, contain an inventive concept that more than merely implements an abstract idea using “well-understood, routine, [and] conventional activities previously known to the industry.”

Under Alice step 1, the district court had held that the “focus of the [] patent” is the abstract idea of “the preparation and transmission of content to peers through a computer network.” The Federal Circuit disagreed, concluding that regardless of whether the invention could be reduced to an abstract concept, under step 2 the claims contained several alleged inventive concepts that the specification touted as specific improvements in the distribution of data [...]

Continue Reading




Check Step One: It’s Not Ova until the Court Compares Claims

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a district court’s decision finding a patent directed to a method of sorting particles using flow cytometry technology ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Federal Circuit also vacated the district court’s conclusion that the patent owner was precluded from asserting certain patents based on claim preclusion. XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, LC, Case No. 19-1789 (Fed. Cir. July 31, 2020) (Stoll, J.).

XY, Beckman Coulter and Inguran (collectively, XY) sued Trans Ova in 2016 for infringement of seven patents relating to technology for sex selection of non-human mammals. Trans Ova filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the asserted claims of one of the patents are ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Applying the Supreme Court’s two-step Alice framework for determining patent eligibility, the district court determined that the claims are ineligible under § 101. At Alice step one, the district court found that the patent’s sole independent claim was directed to the abstract idea of a “mathematical equation that permits rotating multi-dimensional data.” At Alice step two, the district court found that the asserted claims lacked an inventive concept because XY admitted that each claim element was known in the art.

Trans Ova also filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the district court should hold XY’s infringement allegations barred by claim preclusion. The argument was based on XY’s 2012 lawsuit against Trans Ova on infringement of different patents directed to similar technology (which was pending on appeal when the 2016 case was filed). The district court granted Trans Ova’s motion to dismiss infringement allegations of three patents cited in the 2016 suit, and stayed proceedings on XY’s remaining causes of action pending the outcome of the 2016 suit’s appeal. XY appealed the district court’s dismissal decision.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit found that the district court erred in finding that the claims are directed to a mathematical equation under Alice step one. The Court concluded that the asserted claims are directed to a patent-eligible improvement of a method of sorting particles using flow cytometry technology, not to an abstract idea. XY’s claim described detailed improvements to a physical technique, a step-by-step method for a laboratory process, which is patent eligible.

As to the issue of claim preclusion, the parties’ only dispute was whether the district court properly concluded that XY’s 2012 and 2016 lawsuits present the same cause of action. A cause of action is defined based on the transactional facts from which it arises, which in a patent case include both the asserted patents and the accused activity. Claim preclusion will be triggered by different patents only if the scope of the asserted patent claims in the two suits is essentially the same.

XY argued that the district court erred by failing to compare the currently asserted patent claims to the previously asserted patent claims to determine whether the causes of action in the two lawsuits are essentially the same. The Federal Circuit [...]

Continue Reading




BLOG EDITORS

STAY CONNECTED

TOPICS

ARCHIVES