The Software IP Report

Digitally Labeling Website is Unpatentable Subject Matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101, Says E.D. Texas

By Charles Bieneman

Categories: Patent Eligibility, Software Patents, The Software IP Report

Patent claims covering labeling websites were “directed to the abstract idea of gathering and labeling information to facilitate efficient retrieval of the labeled information,” without any saving inventive concept, and as such were patent-ineligible.  Gonzalez v. Infostream Grp., Inc., Nos. 2:14-cv-906-JRG; 2:14-cv-907-JRG (E.D. Texas April 25, 2016).  Accordingly, Judge Gilstrap granted summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 concerning U.S.  Patent  Nos. 7,873,665 and 7,558,807.

The court easily dispensed with the first prong of the two-part Mayo/Alice test, finding that the claims were directed to the above-stated abstract idea.  The court particularly noted that “the claimed idea represents routine tasks that could  be  performed  by  a  human.”

Concerning the second prong of the Alice/May test, the court found that the claims simply used generic computer technology to implement the abstract idea.  The patent owner did not help itself when, during prosecution of its patent applications, it told the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “that ‘this kind of labeling  is  common  in  commerce in physical form,’ but ‘it has not heretofore been used or proposed in digital form for websites.’”  Oops.  In other words, the plaintiff basically told the USPTO that “[t]he claims themselves offer nothing more than  taking  the  well-known  concept  of  labeling  and  applying  it  to  the  internet.”