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Uniloc Communications System Patent Survives § 101 Challenge Based on Technical Improvement: Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics USA, Inc.

Patent claims directed to a communication system recite a technical solution and therefore, the Federal Circuit held, are not patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the two-part Mayo/Alice test. Uniloc USA, Inc. v. LG Electronics USA, Inc., No. 2019-1835 (Fed. Cir. April 30, 2020) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Moore, joined by Judges Reyna and Taranto). The court thus reversed Judge Koh in the Northern District of California, who had found that claims of U.S. Patent 6,993,049 were not patent-eligible, and had granted a Rule12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Representative claim 2 of the ’049 patent recites: A primary station for use in a communications system comprising at least one secondary station, wherein means are provided for broadcasting a series of inquiry messages, each in the form of a plurality of predetermined data fields arranged according to a first communications protocol, and for adding to each inquiry message prior to transmission an additional data…

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This Patent-Eligibility Decision Could Have Gone Either Way

Providing a common data format for “out-of-band network management” is patent-eligible, said a court in denying a motion to dismiss under FRCP 12 and 35 U.S.C. § 101.  Avocent Huntsville LLC v. ZPE Systems, Inc., No. 3:17-cv-04319-WHO (N.D. Cal. March 21, 2018).  In applying the Alice patent-eligibility test, the court thought that the claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,478,152 and 7,853,682 fell under the umbrella of cases like Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2016), and were distinguishable from cases in which claims were found patent-ineligible, like In re TLI Commc’ns LLC Patent Litig. (Fed. Cir. 2016), and Digitech Image Techs., LLC v. Elecs. for Imaging, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2014).  Claim 1 of the ’152 patent is reproduced below. 1. An out-of-band management system for devices on a computer network employing data transmission interfaces for the devices to communicate substantive data on the network, the devices also having management…

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