CAPTCHA Patent Claims Survive Alice Challenge

Patent claims directed to “generating a completely automated test to tell computers and humans apart” – i.e., improvements to what you’ve seen on the Internet as “CAPTCHA” – have survived a motion to dismiss alleging patent-ineligibility under 35 USC § 101 and the Alice abstract idea testConfident Technologies, Inc. v. AXS Group LLC, No. 3-17-cv-02181 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 23, 2018).  Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 8,621,578 recites:

A method for generating a completely automated test to tell computers and humans apart comprising:

generating a matrix of non-overlapping randomly selected images in response to an access request of a user, the dynamic graphical arrangement comprising one randomly selected image from a selected image category chosen for an image recognition task and at least one image not from the selected image category, wherein each image is associated with a unique randomly generated access code, wherein the image recognition task comprises an instruction to select one image corresponding to the selected image category from the matrix of non-overlapping randomly selected images;

presenting the dynamic graphical arrangement of randomly selected images to the user and communicating the image recognition task to the user;

receiving an input from the user access device at a server system, the input comprising the unique randomly generated access code associated with the one image from the selected category;

the server system comparing the input from the user access device to an authenticating reference code to confirm the user is a human and not a computer; and

wherein the matrix comprises at least one image known to belong to the selected image category, at least one image known to not belong to the selected image category and at least one image suspected to belong to the selected image category and wherein the user is still granted access to the website when the input from the user access device comprises selection of the at least one image known to belong to the selected image category and selection or omission of the at least one image suspected to belong to the selected image category.

The defendants argued that the invention claimed in the ’578 patent “is specifically directed to the abstract idea of an image-recognition test.” But the court disagreed, looking to the ’578 patent specification, which described its attempt “to improve on the technological process of the CAPTCHA test by utilizing ‘a matrix of non-overlapping randomly selected images” where “each image is associated with a unique randomly generated access code.’” Thus, said the court, the claimed “matrix of non-overlapping randomly selected images that is presented to the user along with an image recognition task” was an improvement to “an existing technological process, here the CAPTCHA test.”

Notably, the court’s reasons for reaching its conclusion of patent-eligibility included the fact that the claims solved “a problem that currently exists only within the technical world,” and did so in a manner not shown in the prior art.

Upcoming Webinar

Functional Claiming: Pitfalls and How To’s
October 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm EDT
Recent decisions under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 112, and 103 come into focus when viewed through a common lens. During the October webinar, Daniel Hegner of Bejin Bieneman discusses the convergence of federal court and PTAB decisions questioning funct…Register

Subscribe