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Simio, LLC v. FlexSim Software Products, Inc.: Important Precedent for § 101 Patent-Eligibility of Software (or Lack Thereof)

The Federal Circuit ended 2020 with a precedential opinion holding that patent claims directed to providing a graphical user interface for controlling a software object’s behavior were patent-ineligible under the Alice/Mayo test and 35 USC § 101. Simio, LLC v. FlexSim Software Products, Inc., No. 2020-1171 (December 29, 2020; opinion by Chief Judge Prost, joined by Judges Clevenger and Stoll). The court held claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,156,468 were “directed to the abstract idea of using graphics instead of programming to create object-oriented simulations,” and that this abstract idea is patent ineligible. Claim 1, the only independent claim of the ’468 patent, recites: A computer-based system for developing simulation models on a physical computing device, the system comprising: one or more graphical processes; one or more base objects created from the one or more graphical processes, wherein a new object is created from a base object of the one…

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Death and Taxes and Patent-Ineligibility of Business Methods

For all the kvetching about the frustrating subjectivity and unpredictability of applying the Mayo/Alice patent-eligibility test, here is a case showing that there is a zone of certainty in determining patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In In re Greenstein, 2019-1521 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 6, 2019) (per curiam; panel was Prost, Newman, and Moore) (non-precedential), the Federal Circuit issued a reminder that clients can be counseled with some certainty that business methods, however new and different, are not patent-eligible if the improvement is to a business process, and not to technology. Mark Greenstein, proceeding pro se, appealed the USPTO examiner’s rejection under §§ 101, 102, and 103 (the § 102 and § 103 rejections were not reached in the present decision), affirmed by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), of the following claim: One or more computers with associated software programmed to: receive, at a processor and store using…

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Network Monitoring Patents Fail Alice Test, Says Delaware’s Judge Stark

Two patents directed to monitoring network response times to determine responsiveness of network services are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test, held Judge Stark in the District of Delaware. Citrix Systems, Inc. v. AVI Networks, Inc., No. 17-1843-LPS (D. Del. Feb 13, 2019). Accordingly, the court granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss claims of infringement of US Patent Nos. 8,230,055 and 7,720,954. The court found that claims of the ’055 and ’954 patents “are directed to the abstract idea of using a dynamic response time to determine availability.” The patents distinguish themselves from the prior art by explaining that the dynamic determination of response time, taking “into account variations due to increased load or type of request,” was more accurate than prior art methods that determined availability using static response times. Thus, in the words of the court, “the claimed innovation is the use of one formula (determining…

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