Charles Bieneman

Principal author for The Software IP Report

How to (Not) Prove Infringement of a Means-Plus-Function Patent Claim: SPEX Technologies, Inc. v. Apricorn

A patent plaintiff saw its jury trial victory vacated when the court granted a defense motion for judgment as a matter of law under FRCP 50(b), finding that the plaintiff had not proved that the accused products had structure corresponding to claimed means.  SPEX Technologies, Inc. v. Apricorn, No. CV 16-07349 JVS (AGRx) (C.D. Cal. Aug. 10, 2020). The jury found infringement of claims 11 and 12 of U.S. Patent No. 6,088,802. Those claims recite: 11. A peripheral device, comprising: security means for enabling one or more security operations to be performed on data; target means for enabling a defined interaction with a host computing device; means for enabling communication between the security means and the target means; means for enabling communication with a host computing device; and means for mediating communication of data between the host computing device and the target means so that the communicated data must first pass through the security means. 12. A peripheral device as in claim 11, wherein the target means comprises means for non-volatilely storing data. During claim construction, the court had found that an “interface control device 910” disclosed in the ’802 patent specification was the structure corresponding to the recited “means… Read More »How to (Not) Prove Infringement of a Means-Plus-Function Patent Claim: SPEX Technologies, Inc. v. Apricorn

CAFC Split Favors Patent-Eligibility of Network Monitoring Claims: Packet Intelligence LLC v. NetScout Systems, Inc.

A split Federal Circuit panel disagreed whether patent claims directed to network monitoring for whether received packets belong to a particular “conversational flow” are directed to an abstract idea. Judge Lourie was joined by Judge Hughes in affirming a district court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law rejecting a defense of patent-eligibility, under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, of claims directed to determining whether received packets belong to a particular “conversational flow.” Packet Intelligence LLC v. NetScout Systems, Inc., No. 2019-2041 (July 14, 2020) (precedential) (appeal from the Eastern District of Texas; Judge Gilstrap). Judge Reyna, concurring in the court’s opinion on a host of other issues, dissented with respect to § 101 validity, saying that the patent claims were directed to an abstract idea, and that the case should have been remanded to the District Court for further analysis concerning a possible inventive concept under step two of the patent-eligibility test. There were three patents in suit: U.S. 6,665,725, U.S. 6,839,751, and U.S. 6,954,789. Claim 19 of the ’789 patent was discussed as representative: A packet monitor for examining packets passing through a connection point on a computer network, each packets conforming to one or… Read More »CAFC Split Favors Patent-Eligibility of Network Monitoring Claims: Packet Intelligence LLC v. NetScout Systems, Inc.

Patent Claims to Authenticating Users in Transactions Lack Technical Improvement, Fail Patent-Eligibility: Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc.

Claims directed to authenticating users for a transaction are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo patent-eligibility test, and therefore the court granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc., Civ. No. 17-585-CFC-SRF (D. Del. June 30, 2020). The court overruled a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation that the motion be denied, and came just a week after another decision by the same judge (Colm Connolly) in another case holding patent claims directed to authenticating users to transactions ineligible. At issue in this case were U.S. Patent Nos. 8,856,539; 9,100,826; 8,577,813; and 9,530,137. The court began by analyzing claim 22 of the ’539 patent, which recites as follows: A method for providing information to a provider to enable transactions between the provider and entities who have secure data stored in a secure registry in which each entity is identified by a time-varying multicharacter code, the method comprising: receiving a transaction request including at least the time-varying multicharacter code for an entity on whose behalf a transaction is to take place and an indication of the provider requesting the transaction; mapping the time-varying multicharacter code to an identity of the entity using the… Read More »Patent Claims to Authenticating Users in Transactions Lack Technical Improvement, Fail Patent-Eligibility: Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc.

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.

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.

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.

Patent Claims to 3D Virtual Environment Held Ineligible at Pleadings Stage: Barbaro Technologies, LLC v. Niantic Inc.

Patent claims directed to a 3D virtual game environment 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. Barbaro Technologies, LLC v. Niantic Inc., Case No. 18-cv-02955-RS (N.D. Cal. May 21, 2020). The plaintiff had alleged that defendants infringed claims of two patents, US Patent 7,373,377 and US Patent 8,228,325. Asserted claims of the ’325 patent were held ineligible. Claim 1 of the ’325 patent recites: A computer system for providing a virtual thematic environment, comprising: at least one memory having at least one program comprising the steps of: retrieving information for utilization with a three-dimensional virtual thematic environment, from external sources over the internet, said information including a real-world geographic location of a user within said three-dimensional virtual thematic environment; and integrating said information into the three-dimensional virtual thematic environment, such that the three-dimensional virtual thematic environment includes said real-world geographic location displayed to the user as said three-dimensional virtual thematic environment; wherein the user interacts with the three-dimensional virtual thematic environment as a simulated real-world interaction, depending on the user’s geographical three-dimensional movement through the three-dimensional virtual thematic environment; and at least one processor for running… Read More »Patent Claims to 3D Virtual Environment Held Ineligible at Pleadings Stage: Barbaro Technologies, LLC v. Niantic Inc.

CAFC Holds Patent-Ineligible Claims to Ranking Stations in Ad-hoc Radio Network: Cisco Systems, Inc. v. Uniloc 2017

Patent claims directed to “determining a master/slave rank of each station” in an ad hoc radio network are directed to the patent-ineligible “abstract idea of selecting the highest ranked station.” Cisco Systems, Inc. v. Uniloc, 2017, No. 2019-2048 (Fed. Cir. May 13, 2020) (opinion by Judge Moore, joined by Judges O’Malley and Taranto) (non-precedential). The Federal Circuit therefore affirmed a decision by the Northern District of California under FRCP 12(c) dismissing a cause of action for patent infringement of claim 6 of U.S. Patent No. 6,980,522 based on patent-ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Claim 6 of the ’522 patent recites: A method of operating an ad-hoc radio communication system having a plurality of stations formed into at least one network, the method comprising the step of: determining a master/slave rank of each station in the network representative of the station’s suitability for acting as master in the network using antenna performance characteristics of each station in view of the antenna’s local environment; and enabling a station with the highest rank to be master. Under Alice step one, district court had held claim 6 directed to the patent-ineligible abstract idea of “ranking stations based on antenna performance characteristics and selecting… Read More »CAFC Holds Patent-Ineligible Claims to Ranking Stations in Ad-hoc Radio Network: Cisco Systems, Inc. v. Uniloc 2017

Design Choice and Obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103 at the Federal Circuit: Uber Tech., Inc. v. X One, Inc.

The Federal Circuit has reversed a PTAB determination of non-obviousness because, where the PTAB found no motivation to combine references, the Federal Circuit found a combination of references presented a simple design choice between a predictable, finite number of possibilities. Uber Tech., Inc. v. X One, Inc., No. 2019-1164 (May 5, 2020) (Chief Judge Prost, joined by Judges Dyk and Wallach) (precedential). This is an interesting case for patent applicants, patent owners, and patent challengers alike. On the one hand, for patent examiners and patent challengers, this decision reinforces the looseness of the requirement to show a reason to combine references to show obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103 and KSR Intern. Co. v. Teleflex Inc. (S. Ct. 2007). On the other hand, for patent applicants and owners, the court did identify a specific showing to support obviousness that will be unavailable in many cases. Claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,798,593 recite techniques for mobile devices to exchange location information according to a “buddy list” that could be dynamically generated and updated. Claim 1 of the ’593 patent, with the limitation at issue in this case shown in bold, is reproduced below: An apparatus, comprising: a server; a database representing… Read More »Design Choice and Obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103 at the Federal Circuit: Uber Tech., Inc. v. X One, Inc.

Uniloc Communications System Patent Survives § 101 Challenge Based on Technical Improvement: Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics USA, Inc.

Patent claims directed to a communication system recite a technical solution and therefore, the Federal Circuit held, are not patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the two-part Mayo/Alice test. Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics USA, Inc., No. 2019-1835 (Fed. Cir. April 30, 2020) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Moore, joined by Judges Reyna and Taranto). The court thus reversed Judge Koh in the Northern District of California, who had found that claims of U.S. Patent 6,993,049 were not patent-eligible, and had granted a Rule12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Representative claim 2 of the ’049 patent recites: A primary station for use in a communications system comprising at least one secondary station, wherein means are provided for broadcasting a series of inquiry messages, each in the form of a plurality of predetermined data fields arranged according to a first communications protocol, and for adding to each inquiry message prior to transmission an additional data field for polling at least one secondary station. The district court held claims of the ’049 patent ineligible as “directed to the abstract idea of ‘additional polling in a wireless communication system,’” without a saving inventive concept, by analogizing to “data manipulation claims” found ineligible in Two-Way Media Ltd. v.… Read More »Uniloc Communications System Patent Survives § 101 Challenge Based on Technical Improvement: Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics USA, Inc.