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NantWorks, LLC v. Niantic, Inc.: Reconciling Transactions Between Players of an Online Video Game is not Patent-Eligible

In Nantworks v Niantic., the Northern District of California held that peer-to-peer online transaction reconciliation that uses a physical location of one of the participants is an abstract idea that is not patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. No. 20-cv-06262 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 4, 2021). Plaintiff NantWorks asserted U.S. Patent No. 10,614,477 against Niantic. The ‘477 patent is directed to reconciling transactions between two players of a computer-based video game based on the first player’s physical location. Niantic’s Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite augmented reality mobile games allow for player-to-player exchange of in-game currency and items, and NantWorks alleged that this exchange feature infringed claim 20 of the ‘477 patent: A reconciliation system, comprising: at least one processor communicatively coupled with at least one memory storing instructions that, when executed by the at least one processor, cause the at least one processor to: determine, within a…

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Simio, LLC v. FlexSim Software Products, Inc.: Important Precedent for § 101 Patent-Eligibility of Software (or Lack Thereof)

The Federal Circuit ended 2020 with a precedential opinion holding that patent claims directed to providing a graphical user interface for controlling a software object’s behavior were patent-ineligible under the Alice/Mayo test and 35 USC § 101. Simio, LLC v. FlexSim Software Products, Inc., No. 2020-1171 (December 29, 2020; opinion by Chief Judge Prost, joined by Judges Clevenger and Stoll). The court held claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,156,468 were “directed to the abstract idea of using graphics instead of programming to create object-oriented simulations,” and that this abstract idea is patent ineligible. Claim 1, the only independent claim of the ’468 patent, recites: A computer-based system for developing simulation models on a physical computing device, the system comprising: one or more graphical processes; one or more base objects created from the one or more graphical processes, wherein a new object is created from a base object of the one…

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No Stay for Supreme Court Petition in American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings

In the latest episode of the closely watched case American Axle v. Neapco, the Federal Circuit denied American Axle’s motion to stay pending its petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court. The case started as an infringement action for U.S. Patent No. 7,774,911, covering a method of manufacturing driveline propeller shafts. In a panel decision, the Federal Circuit invalidated one independent claim under § 101 as directed to a natural law and remanded another independent claim to the district court to determine whether the claim was invalid as directed to an abstract idea (previously covered here). The Federal Circuit also denied rehearing en banc in a contentious 6-6 decision (previously covered here). The test for a stay pending a writ of certiorari requires (1) a “reasonable probability” that cert is granted, (2) a “fair prospect” of reversal by the Court, and (3) a likelihood of irreparable harm from…

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Image Display Patents Fail Alice Test: Gabara v. Facebook, Inc.

In granting a motion to dismiss for lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C § 101, a court determined that patents relating to moving a portable unit to view an image of a stationary map and using a portable wireless system to improve the operations of a group communicating electronically are abstract ideas that do not include an inventive concept.  Gabara v. Facebook, Inc., No. 9cv9890(DLC) (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 4, 2020) Plaintiff Gabara alleged that Facebook committed direct, induced, and contributory infringement of the five patents at issue: US Patent Nos. 8,930,131; 8,620,545; 8,836,698; 8,706,400 (the “Image Patents”), and 9,299,348 (the “348 patent”).  The Image Patents The Image Patents are directed toward moving a portable unit, such as a mobile device, to view an image of a stationary map instead of scrolling on the device to change the view.  The court likened this concept to moving a telescope across a…

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Mechanical Inventions Still Potentially Ineligible: American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings (Part 2 of 2)

The Federal Circuit recently denied a rehearing en banc in American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings, letting stand a panel decision invalidating a method of manufacturing driveline propeller shafts as ineligible subject matter under § 101. This post covers the multiple concurrences and dissents accompanying the rehearing denial, which reveal a splintered court. Part 1 covered the background and the modified panel decision, in which the court invalidated this claim as ineligible subject matter: 22. A method for manufacturing a shaft assembly of a driveline system, the driveline system further including a first driveline component and a second driveline component, the shaft assembly being adapted to transmit torque between the first driveline component and the second driveline component, the method comprising: providing a hollow shaft member; tuning a mass and a stiffness of at least one liner; and inserting the at least one liner into the shaft member; wherein…

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