The Software IP Report

Another Easy Section 101 Case at the Federal Circuit

By Charles Bieneman

Categories: Patent Eligibility, The Software IP Report

In a per curiam decision on an appeal brought by a pro se patent owner, a Federal Circuit panel of Judges O’Malley, Linn, and Stoll held that claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,744,933 (“Payroll processing, certification, reporting and project management system and method”) were not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  Shortridge v. Foundation Construction Payroll Service, LLC, No. 2015-1898 (Fed. Cir. July 13, 2016).

Claim 1 of the ‘933 patent recites “[a] method of public works construction payroll processing for a contractor.”  The district court had found “that the ‘933 patent is directed to the abstract idea of ‘cataloging labor data.'”  And the patent owner did not dispute that the claims were directed to an abstract idea.

Thus, the the patent owner was left to argue the second prong of the Mayo/Alice test, i.e., that the patent claims included an inventive step.  The court had little problem dismissing the notion that “the generation of CPRs ‘in conjunction with and simultaneous with’ core payroll processing” was an inventive concept that made the abstract idea patent-eligible.  Further, even if the claims had technical elements, such as a relational database, DDR Holdings, LLC v., L.P., 773 F.3d 1245 (Fed. Cir. 2014), was inapposite, because there was no showing “that the claimed ‘relational database’ is used to solve a uniquely technical problem.”