Under Alice, Some Patent-Ineligibility Determinations Are Routine

Here is a patent claim concerning which the Federal Circuit, without comment, agreed was not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice test:

A method for monitoring and analyzing at least one signal comprising:

receiving at least one reference signal to be monitored;

creating an abstract of said at least one reference signal wherein the step of creating an abstract of said at least one reference signal comprises:

inputting the reference signal to a processor;

creating an abstract of the reference signal using perceptual qualities of the reference signal such that the abstract retains a perceptual relationship to the reference signal from which it is derived;

storing the abstract of said at least one reference signal in a reference database;

receiving at least one query signal to be analyzed;

creating an abstract of said at least one query signal wherein the step of creating an abstract of said at least one query signal comprises:

inputting the at least one query signal to the processor;

creating an abstract of the at least one query signal using perceptual qualities of the at least one query signal such that the abstract retains a perceptual relationship to the at least one query signal from which it is derived; and

comparing the abstract of said at least one query signal to the abstract of said at least one reference signal to determine if the abstract of said at least one query signal matches the abstract of said at feast one reference signal.

This was claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,346,472, representative for that patent and for claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,660,700, 7,949,494, 8,214,175, and 8,712,728.  As reported in this post, the district court in the Central District of California granted a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings on the premise that the patents’ claims were directed to an unpatentable abstract idea.

The Federal Circuit panel (Judges Moore, Wallach, and Taranto) issued a one-word per curiam affirmance of the district court’s judgment. Blue Spike, LLC v. Google, Inc., No. 2016-1054 (Oct. 14, 2016).

If you read the claim, it is hard to dispute that there is anything going on other than analyzing a signal.  Worse, the signal was not tied to any concrete thing or concrete result.  This sort of thing doesn’t get deep scrutiny in today’s patent-eligibility climate.