The Software IP Report

Medical Malpractice Insurance Patent Claims Invalid on Motion to Dismiss

By Charles Bieneman

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

Patent claims drawn to compiling medical credentialing information, and transferring the information to a medical malpractice insurance application, have been held invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 on the Defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss.  Sinclair Allison v. Fifth Ave. Physician Servs., No. CIV-12-360-M (W.D. Okla. Dec. 19, 2012).

The claims of U.S. Patent Number 6,862,571 and U.S. Patent Number 7,469,214 were drawn to “compiling healthcare professional credentialing information and transferring said information to an application for medical malpractice insurance,” and “ensuring current information for liability insurance underwriting, wherein associated credentialing information may be updated and analyzed to determine if a policy should be underwritten or renewed.”  The Defendants brought a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted, arguing that the patents sought to protect a business method that was “an unpatentable abstract idea.”

The Court noted that “[w]hether asserted patent claims are invalid for failure to claim statutory subject matter under  § 101 is a question of law.”  Further, claim construction was neither required, nor in this case necessary, prior to determining whether the patent claims recited patentable subject matter under Section 101.  Thus, the Court here applied the analysis mandated by Bilski  v. Kappos, 130 S. Ct. 3218 (2010).

Turning to the machine-or-transformation test, the Court concluded that the claims were “not tied to a particular machine,” even when “construing the terms ‘electronic forwarding and transferring’ and ‘computer network’ in the light most favorable to plaintiff.”  Indeed, a wide variety of machines could perform these functions. Therefore, these claim terms “simply function as an obvious mechanism for permitting the process to be achieved more quickly and efficiently.”  Consequently “[t]he patent claims in the case at bar are entirely unlike patent claims in other cases where, as a practical matter, the use of a computer is required to perform the claimed method.”

Likewise, the claims did not accomplish any “transformation.”  The Court noted that “[d]ata from the credentialing application is simply transferred, not transformed, to an application for medical malpractice insurance.”

Further, the claims were directed to an abstract idea:

The notion of compiling data and recycling it for different purposes generally and compiling data and recycling it for the purpose of a medical malpractice insurance application, like the relationship between hedging and hedging in the energy market addressed in Bilski II, is of no consequence without more.

Accordingly, the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss was granted.

Other recent Section 101 cases are discussed on this blog, and also are summarized here in table form.