June 2020

Claimed Improvement Not Patent-Eligible Where Reducible to Mental Steps: Money and Data Protection Lizenz GMPH & Co. KG v. Duo Security, Inc.

A Rule 12 motion to dismiss was granted where patent claims directed to “authenticating a user to a transaction at a terminal” failed the 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Alice/Mayo patent-eligibility test. Money and Data Protection Lizenz GMPH & Co. KG v. Duo Security, Inc., Civil Action No. 18-1477-CFC (D. Del. June 24, 2020). Notably, the plaintiff attempted to rely on a purported improvement to computing technology that the court discounted because the purported improvement to network authentication processes, the court said, could be performed mentally. Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 9,246,903 recites: A method of authenticating a user to a transaction at a terminal, comprising the steps of: transmitting a user identification from the terminal to a transaction partner via a first communication channel, providing an authentication step in which an authentication device uses a second communication channel for checking an authentication function that is implemented in a mobile device of the user, as a criterion for deciding whether the authentication to the transaction shall be granted or denied, having the authentication device check whether a predetermined time relation exists between the transmission of the user identification and a response from the second communication channel, ensuring that the authentication… Read More »Claimed Improvement Not Patent-Eligible Where Reducible to Mental Steps: Money and Data Protection Lizenz GMPH & Co. KG v. Duo Security, Inc.

Means-Plus-Function Construction Can Lead to Indefiniteness

In Unicorn Global Inc. v. Golab, Inc. No. 3:19-CV-0754-N (N.D. Tex. May 26, 2020), the Northern District of Texas construed several disputed terms of U.S. Patent No. 9,376,155 and U.S. Patent No. 9,452,802, and found claims to be indefinite means-plus-function claims without having structure described in the specifications. The patents are directed to personal transportation devices known as hoverboards which include a divided platform with wheels on opposite ends. A rider stands on the platform and tilts halves of the platform to control movement of the hoverboard. Most notable of the construed claim terms was “limiting shaft.” Plaintiff and patent owner Unicorn conclusorily asserted that the term should be given its plain and ordinary meaning. Defendant and alleged infringer Golab argued that “limiting shaft” was means a plus-function term and could not be defined. The court started by stating that the term “sounds like a structural element” and was presumed not to be means-plus-function because there was no specific recitation of “means.” However, the court determined that the presumption was rebutted because “limiting shaft” clearly described a function, i.e., limiting relative rotation between two objects connected by the shaft, and further because Unicorn failed to provide evidence that described a structure… Read More »Means-Plus-Function Construction Can Lead to Indefiniteness

Patent Claims for “Two-step Pick and Place” fail § 101 at Rule 12 stage.

Patent claims directed to a two-step “pick and place” operation for attaching electronic parts to a circuit body (a “die attach” method) were held ineligible on a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings under 35 U.S.C. §101 and the Alice/Mayo test. Palomar Technologies, Inc., v MRSI Systems, LLC, Case no. 18-10236-FDS (D. Mass., May 28, 2020.) Background The plaintiff Palomar sued defendant MRSI for infringement of Palomar’s U.S. Patent No. 6,776,327. MRSI petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for inter partes review (IPR) of the patent. The PTAB upheld validity of claims 1-47 and held claim 48 invalid. Following the IPR, MRSI moved for summary judgement on the basis of patent-ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The ’327 patent discloses a method which utilizes “double pick and place” wherein a first workpiece is first moved to an intermediate location close to a target attach location on a second workpiece, and then, moved to the final attach location. Claim 1 of the ‘327 patent, determined by the Court to be representative, recites: A method for placement of a first workpiece onto a second workpiece comprising the steps of: a) providing a first workpiece positioned at an origination location… Read More »Patent Claims for “Two-step Pick and Place” fail § 101 at Rule 12 stage.

Use of Passive Voice Insufficient to Connote Structure in MPF Analysis

The District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued a claim construction order in Zoho Corporation v. Sentius International, LLC, finding that the claim limitation “means for compiling the source material image from at least the plurality of discrete pieces” was indefinite.  The present action arose from a declaratory judgement action brought about by Zoho alleging that it did not infringe Reissued Patent No. RE43,633.  While both parties agreed that 35 U.S.C. ¶ 6 (means-plus-function) applied, the parties diverged on the question of whether the specification disclosed sufficient structure for the compile function.  During a means-plus-function analysis, the court engages in a two-step inquiry to construe the claim limitations at issue as set forth in Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC.  First, the court identifies the claimed function, and, second, the court determines “what structure, if any, disclosed in the specification corresponds to the claimed function.”  The Federal Circuit, in Noah Sys., Inc. v. Intuit, Inc., has stated that a structure corresponds to the claimed function if “the specification or the prosecution history clearly links or associates the structure to the function recited in the claim.”  In its proposed claim construction, the Patent Owner, Sentius, alleged that the corresponding… Read More »Use of Passive Voice Insufficient to Connote Structure in MPF Analysis

Providing Software for User Device Insufficient to Adequately Plead Infringement of Method Claim

The Northern District of California dismissed a complaint of patent infringement for failing to adequately plead direct or joint infringement. Sentius Int’l LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 4:20-cv-00477 (N.D. Cal. June 2, 2020). The Court held that merely selling software did not constitute direct infringement and that Sentius did not adequately allege the requisite direction or control required for joint infringement. Plaintiff Sentius alleged infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. RE43633 and 7,672,985 by Defendant Apple. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), alleging that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead direct and joint infringement of the asserted patents. Claim 62 of the ‘633 patent is too long to recite in full, but the relevant part to consider is “a computer-implemented method for linking textual source material to external reference materials for display….” Of note is that a “computer-implemented method” has specific requirements for direct and joint infringement, as the Court discussed in the decision. Direct infringement of a method claim, as elucidated in the several Akamai decisions, requires all steps of the claimed method to be performed by or attributable to a single entity. Sale of a product that performs the method, such as software, is not direct infringement… Read More »Providing Software for User Device Insufficient to Adequately Plead Infringement of Method Claim

Willful Infringement Allegations Require More Than Conclusory Statements

In a recent decision from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, the court granted a motion to dismiss willful infringement allegations for lacking plausible factual allegations. IP Power v. Westfield , No. 2:19-cv-01878-MMD-NJK (D. Nev. June 4, 2020). This case centers around U.S. Patent No. 6,817,671, which is directed to a collapsible, reclining camp chair with a footrest and cupholders.  The plaintiff sued the defendant after multiple correspondences were exchanged between the parties.  In its complaint alleging patent infringement, the plaintiff also asserted that the defendant engaged in conduct rising to the level of willful infringement.  The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the willful infringement allegations, and the defendant’s argument centered on a single paragraph in the complaint.  That paragraph recited that: In addition, it is believed that [defendant] knew of the 671 Patent and/or licensed products before [defendant] developed its Accused Instrumentalities and copied the patented features from the 671 Patent and/or licensed patented products into the Accused Instrumentalities. Furthermore, [defendant] had actual or constructive knowledge of the 671 Patent and its infringement prior to the filing of this Complaint. At least as of March 22, 2019, [plaintiff] informed [defendant] that [defendant]’s Reclining Camp… Read More »Willful Infringement Allegations Require More Than Conclusory Statements

Barcode Patent Fails Alice § 101 Test: Coding Technologies, LLC v. Mississippi Power Co.

Patent claims directed to scanning a code pattern for billing information and then processing a bill based on billing information obtained thereby have been held ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the  Alice/Mayo test. In Coding Technologies, LLC v. Mississippi Power Co., No. 1:19-CV-994-LG-RHW (S.D. Miss. June 4, 2020), the court granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss based on § 101 invalidity of U.S. Patent No. 9,240,008. Claim 1 of the ’008 patent recites: A method comprising: receiving a payment request message including a code pattern image from a terminal, wherein the code pattern image includes billing information and is photographed by a photographing unit in the terminal; analyzing the code pattern image to obtain code information corresponding to the code pattern image obtaining user information and billing information corresponding to the code information in reference of billing database, and processing payment of a bill based on the billing information and user information. The court took as its first task, under Alice step one, to determine “the basic thrust” of the ’008 patent claims. Determining “that the claims are directed to the use of a barcode on a mobile device to facilitate or effectuate bill payment,” the court then… Read More »Barcode Patent Fails Alice § 101 Test: Coding Technologies, LLC v. Mississippi Power Co.

Shure Infringement Claims Against ClearOne Survive Motion to Dismiss Based on Civil Procedure Rules

In the latest development in extensive litigation between Shure and ClearOne over audio and conferencing equipment, the District of Delaware rejected a motion to dismiss Shure’s claims over multiple civil procedure grounds, including as compulsory counterclaims to an earlier suit and as failing to be the first to file. The conflict between Shure and ClearOne began not in the District of Delaware but in the Northern District of Illinois. In 2017, Shure filed a declaratory judgment of noninfringement of ClearOne’s U.S. Patent No. 9,635,186, and ClearOne responded with counterclaims for infringement of the ’186 patent and of U.S. Patent No. 9,813,806. Both patents relate to beamforming microphones in ceiling arrays, an area in which the parties compete. ClearOne got a preliminary injunction for the ’806 patent (but not the ’186 patent), specifically against Shure’s MXA910 product “in its drop-ceiling mounting configuration.” In 2019, ClearOne filed a second infringement suit against Shure in the Northern District of Illinois over U.S. Patent No. 9,264,553, also related to beamforming microphones. Shure got an inter partes review instituted by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board against the ’553 patent, but the PTAB ended up upholding the challenged patent claims. In this District of Delaware… Read More »Shure Infringement Claims Against ClearOne Survive Motion to Dismiss Based on Civil Procedure Rules

CAFC Easily Invalidates Mobile Device Search Patent under Alice: British Telecommunications PLC v. IAC/InterActiveCorp.

Patent claims directed to presenting a user with a “short list” of  “information sources” for selection based on a user location are patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the  Alice/Mayo test. British Telecommunications  PLC v. IAC/InterActiveCorp., No. 2019-1917 (Fed. Cir. June 3, 2020) (opinion by Judge Taranto, joined by Judges Dyk and Hughes) (non-precedential). The Federal Circuit panel upheld the district court’s decision, on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, that all claims of U.S.  Patent  No. 6,397,040 are ineligible under § 101. (The underlying lawsuit involves six patents, but only the § 101 eligibility of the ’040 patent was at issue in this appeal.) Representative claim 1 of the ’040 patent recites: A method of selecting information sources from which information is provided to users via a telecommunications system, said method comprising: tracking the location of a user in the system by receipt of tracking information for said user; accessing location data indicating localities in which information from the respective sources is deemed to be relevant; generating a shortlist of information sources for said user on the basis of said tracking information and said location data; and transmitting said shortlist to a terminal associated with said user so as… Read More »CAFC Easily Invalidates Mobile Device Search Patent under Alice: British Telecommunications PLC v. IAC/InterActiveCorp.

Attorney-Client Privilege Granted to Canadian In-House Counsel on U.S. Law

The District of Kansas held that documents produced by a Canadian attorney working as in-house counsel on U.S. patent infringement matters qualify for attorney-client privilege in a U.S. patent infringement case. Sudenga Indus., Inc. v. Global Industries, Inc., No. 18-2498-DDC (D. Kan. May 15, 2020). Plaintiff Sudenga Industries sent a cease and desist letter alleging patent infringement to Defendant Global Industries. Defendant is based in Canada, and their General Counsel is licensed in Canada, but not in any U.S. state. Plaintiff filed a motion to compel documents from Defendant drafted by the Canadian General Counsel regarding the cease and desist letter. Plaintiff argued that the Canadian attorney did not have attorney-client privilege for this U.S. matter. Defendant argued that privilege attached because Canadian privilege would attach in this situation if it involved a Canadian patent and no U.S. case has held that communications from Canadian counsel on U.S. patent matters were not privileged. Privilege is a matter of common law, so the Court looked to Kansas law. In Kansas, an attorney includes “a person authorized…to practice law in any state or nation, the law of which recognizes a privilege against disclosure of confidential communications between client and attorney” (emphasis added)… Read More »Attorney-Client Privilege Granted to Canadian In-House Counsel on U.S. Law