Database Indexing Patent Claims Survive Alice Motion to Dismiss

Case:  Iron Gate Security, Inc. v. Lowe’s Companies, Inc., No. 15-cv-8814 (KBF) (S.D.N.Y. August 3, 2016).

Result: Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss based on invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 denied, but defendant may bring a Section 101 motion again when there is a more “fulsome record.”

Patent: U.S. Patent 7,203,693, entitled “Instantly indexed databases for multimedia content analysis and retrieval.”  Representative claim 1 recites:

A  method for use in indexing, in a database, data associated with a domain-specific event, the method comprising the steps of:

processing sensor data obtained in accordance with the event in real time, the sensor data comprising motion data of one or more objects or one or more people associated with the domain-specific event;

obtaining pre-existing data associated with the domain-specific event; and

indexing data associated with the domain-specific event in the database, contemporaneous with capture of the data associated with the domain-specific event being indexed, based on at least a portion of the processed real time sensor data and at least a portion of the obtained pre-existing data, wherein the indexing step further comprises generating an index usable to retrieve at least a portion of the data associated with the domain-specific event by creating one or more cross-indexes between at least a portion of the processed real time sensor data and at least a portion of the obtained pre-existing data.

Abstract Idea (Alice Step 1): None.  The court purported to follow Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016), and explained:

it is clear that the '693 Patent is directed to particular improvements over prior art multimedia data indexing techniques that render such data accessible in real time. At least on the face of the patent, this is a real invention designed to solve a problem, not mere implementation of the abstract idea of indexing data. Even if the "inventive" aspect of the '693 Patent is just that it combines and re-organizes a collection of processes and concepts existing in the prior art, that does not mean the claims are directed to an abstract idea ineligible for patent protection.

Inventive Concept (Alice Step 2): Even if the claims were directed to an abstract idea, though the court was constrained from making factual findings at this stage about the field of the invention, or doing claim construction, the court noted that “the claimed invention purports to improve upon existing multimedia data indexing techniques by allowing for indexing to occur contemporaneously to capture, which confers advantages that had not been achieved in the prior art.”

Takeaway: This is a case that other courts would have decided differently.  The court here emphasized that it might decide the patent-eligibility question differently “on a more developed record.”  This defendant, and others, must be asking what facts beyond the specification and the claims are needed (e.g., what expert testimony would help) to prevail on a Section 101 invalidity argument.

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