Patent Eligibility

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 denying the stay. The order by Judge Dyk set aside the first two prongs and denied the stay based on a lack of irreparable harm. American Axle pointed to the significant litigation expenses of continuing to litigate the case in the district court for the remanded independent claim, but precedent… Read More »No Stay for Supreme Court Petition in American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings

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 sky or a magnifying glass across a map. The court identified claim 1 of the ‘400 patent to be representative of the Image Patents.  Independent claim 1 is reproduced below: 1. A method of moving a portable unit to search for a new location comprising the steps of: displaying an… Read More »Image Display Patents Fail Alice Test: Gabara v. Facebook, Inc.

Wireless Surveillance System with Generic Components is Patent-Ineligible: Sensormatic Elect., LLC, v. Wize Labs, Inc.

In granting a motion to dismiss based on lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, a court held that patent claims for multiple patents directed to “wireless surveillance systems for monitoring a target environment” are abstract ideas, and “merely implement[ing] the abstract idea of wireless communication and remote surveillance using well-known, generic computer components and functionalities” does not provide an inventive concept. Sensormatic v. Wyze Labs., No. 19-1543-CFC (D. Del. Sept. 3, 2020) (patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,954,129; 7,730,534; 7,936,370; and 8,610,772) The court identified claim 14 of the ‘129 patent as representative of all claims in the asserted patents. Independent claim 14 of the ‘129 patent is reproduced here: 14. A surveillance system for wireless communication between components comprising: a base system including at least two wireless input capture devices (ICDs), the ICSs having at least one sensor and at least one input component for detecting and recording inputs, a processor, a memory, a transmitter/receiver, all constructed and configured in electronic connection; wherein the ICDs are operable for direct wireless cross-communication with each other without requiring interaction with a remote server computer for operation; and wherein the ICDs are operable for direct wireless… Read More »Wireless Surveillance System with Generic Components is Patent-Ineligible: Sensormatic Elect., LLC, v. Wize Labs, Inc.

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 the at least one liner is a tuned resistive absorber for attenuating shell mode vibrations and wherein the at least one liner is a tuned reactive absorber for attenuating bending mode vibrations. The court split 6-6 on whether to grant a rehearing, with the tie vote leading to a denial.… Read More »Mechanical Inventions Still Potentially Ineligible: American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings (Part 2 of 2)

Mechanical Inventions Still Potentially Ineligible: American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings (Part 1 of 2)

The Federal Circuit has modified a panel decision and denied a rehearing en banc in a closely watched § 101 case, American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings. The original decision had found all the claims, which were directed to a method of manufacturing driveline propeller shafts, ineligible subject matter (previously covered in this post). The new panel decision maintained that result for two of the independent claims but remanded on a third independent claim. (Stay tuned for a follow-up post on the en banc denial, which revealed a fractured court with multiple concurrences and dissents and a 6-6 tie vote.) Much of the controversy centered on the subject matter of the patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 7,774,911—not software or medical diagnostics, as in most applications of § 101, but instead a purely mechanical invention. All three independent claims were for “a method for manufacturing a shaft assembly of a driveline system.” The patent focused on the problem of vibrations in the driveshaft, by making a liner to fit inside the driveshaft. Vibrations came in three flavors: bending mode, which involves vibrations curving the shaft along its length; torsion mode, twisting the shaft; and shell mode, flexing circumferentially around… Read More »Mechanical Inventions Still Potentially Ineligible: American Axle & Mfg. v. Neapco Holdings (Part 1 of 2)

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.

Conclusory Legal Statements are not Factual Allegations to Survive Section 101 Eligibility: Dropbox Inc. v. Synchronoss Techs, Inc.

Conclusory legal statements that attempt to invoke a factual allegation do not sufficiently allege an inventive concept to satisfy patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Dropbox Inc., Orcinus Holdings, LLC v. Synchronoss Techs. Inc, 2019-1765, 2019-1767, 2019-1823 (Fed. Cir. June 19, 2020) (nonprecedential). Plaintiff Dropbox asserted infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,178,505, 6,058,399, and 7,567,541 against Defendant Synchronoss. The patents are directed to data security and data uploading to websites and networks. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), holding that all three patents as ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In particular, the district court held that Plaintiff failed to allege an inventive concept to satisfy the second part of the two-part Alice test. The details of the specific patents would warrant their own posts, so we will focus on the Court’s discussion of Plaintiff’s factual allegations of an inventive concept. Some courts have held that sufficient factual allegations of an inventive concept can present an unresolved question of fact to survive Rule 12(b)(6) and that this should be the norm to better develop the factual record. Other courts, like the district court here, are perfectly happy to hold claims ineligible under Section 101… Read More »Conclusory Legal Statements are not Factual Allegations to Survive Section 101 Eligibility: Dropbox Inc. v. Synchronoss Techs, 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.

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.