The Software IP Report

Emergency Call Analysis Patent Claims Invalid Under Alice

Patent claims directed to an “emergency call analysis system” were held patent ineligible, and a motion to dismiss for failure to claim patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 granted, in Boar’s Head Corp. v. Directapps, Inc., No. 2:14-cv-01927-KJM-KJN (E.D. California, July 27, 2015). The court found that under the Mayo/Alice test the patent claimed an abstract idea without an inventive step that  limited the claim in a patent-eligible manner.

U.S. Patent No. 8,447,263 describes a dashboard system which receives emergency calls, performs statistical analysis on data related to the calls (geographic location, type of call, etc.) and displays the results graphically.

The court first considered and rejected plaintiff’s argument that dismissal was premature because claim construction had not yet occurred. According to the court, the only factual issue genuinely in dispute was whether a merely generic computer could perform the patent claims. However, the patent answered this question, stating that the “computer system may also be implemented as or incorporated into various devices, such as a personal computer or a mobile device . . . any kind of computer system or other apparatus adapted for carrying out the methods described herein is suited.”

Next, the court applied the two-part patent-eligibility test to the patent claims. First, the court determined that the claims addressed the abstract idea of organizing phone call data in reciting a computerized system of tracking and aggregating caller information.

Because the court found that the patent claims were directed to an abstract idea, it turned to the second step in the Mayo analysis, whether there was an inventive concept that was “substantially more” than the abstract idea, rendering the claims patent-eligible. To this end, interestingly, the court applied the “machine-or-transformation” test. The claimed invention was not tied to a particular machine or apparatus. A generic computer was sufficient to perform the claimed functions.  Further, the claimed invention did not perform any “transformation.” The claimed system performed routine functions of compiling and reorganizing data. Thus, the claims failed the second prong of the patent-eligibility test.