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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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Patent Claims for “Two-step Pick and Place” fail § 101 at Rule 12 stage.

Patent claims directed to a two-step “pick and place” operation for attaching electronic parts to a circuit body (a “die attach” method) were held ineligible on a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings under 35 U.S.C. §101 and the Alice/Mayo test. Palomar Technologies, Inc., v MRSI Systems, LLC, Case no. 18-10236-FDS (D. Mass., May 28, 2020.) Background The plaintiff Palomar sued defendant MRSI for infringement of Palomar’s U.S. Patent No. 6,776,327. MRSI petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for inter partes review (IPR) of the patent. The PTAB upheld validity of claims 1-47 and held claim 48 invalid. Following the IPR, MRSI moved for summary judgement on the basis of patent-ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The ’327 patent discloses a method which utilizes “double pick and place” wherein a first workpiece is first moved to an intermediate location close to a target attach location on a…

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Extrinsic Evidence and Abstract Ideas in Patent-Eligibility: CardioNet, LLC v. InfoBionic, Inc.

What if any limits are there on the extrinsic evidence (prior art) that can be considered in determining whether a patent claim is drawn to an abstract idea under step one of the Alice/Mayo 35 U.S.C. § 101 patent-eligibility test? And to what extent does the answer to this question matter; is it merely academic? In CardioNet, LLC v. InfoBionic, Inc., No. 2019-1149 (Fed. Cir. April 17, 2020), a three-judge panel (Judges Stoll, Plager, and Dyk) reversed the district court’s grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion because claims  of U.S. Patent No. 7,941,207 “are directed to a patent-eligible improvement to cardiac monitoring technology and are not directed to an abstract idea.” The panel unanimously agreed that the ‘207patent’s claims were patent-eligible – and that a remand was not needed for a “review of the prior art or facts outside of the intrinsic record regarding the state of the art at the…

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Patent Claims to Virtual Smartphone for Automobile Fail Alice Test: KCG Technologies, LLC v. CarMax Auto Superstores, Inc.

Claims directed to a virtual smartphone that could be displayed on a vehicle touchscreen are patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the two-part Mayo/Alice patent-eligibility test, held the court in KCG Technologies, LLC v. CarMax Auto Superstores, Inc. The court thus granted the defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 9,671,955 recites: A virtual smart phone, comprising: a screen mounted in an automobile; a processor, a non-transitory memory, and a power port mounted in the automobile; a software application executing on the processor to control image display on the screen and emulate features of a handheld device; a visual representation of a plurality of features of the handheld device on the screen; and an interactive element, wherein the interactive element allows access to the plurality of features of the handheld device, wherein the plurality of features of the handheld device comprises volume control, messages, phone call,…

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Your Garage Door Opener Is Not Patent-Eligible

Patent claims directed to a “movable barrier operator,” i.e., controlling a garage door, are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice/Mayo test. Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd., Nos. 2018-2103, 2018-2228 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 21, 2019) (precedential) (Judge Chen, joined by Judges O’Malley and Lourie).  There are a lot of lessons in this procedurally rich post-trial appeal from, and partial reversal of, denial of a JMOL motion. In this post we will focus on a substantive lesson: patent claims reciting devices and hardware elements have no particular claim to patent-eligibility. Representative claim 1 of U.S. 7,224,275 recites A movable barrier operator comprising: a controller having a plurality of potential operational status conditions defined, at least in part, by a plurality of operating states; a movable barrier interface that is operably coupled to the controller; a wireless status condition data transmitter that is operably coupled to the…

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