The Software IP Report

More Business Method and E-Commerce Patents Held Ineligible

By Charles Bieneman

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

More e-commerce / business method patent claims are invalidated under 35 U.S.C. § 101 . . .

Enpat, Inc. v. Tenrox Inc., Case No: 6:13-cv-948-Orl-31KRS (M.D. Fla. Feb. 10, 2015). Claims of U.S. Patent No. RE38,633 were held patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101, and a defense motion for summary judgment was granted. The ‘633 patent claimed “a software-based system for managing projects automatically, with a computer that uses a database to keep track of tasks, resources . . . and priorities for a project.” When mission critical tasks occur, the computer “automatically reassigns resources to achieve the most efficient completion of the project.” The court found that there was no improvement to the “existing abstract idea of project management,” and the claimed invention “simply takes an abstract idea and computerizes it.”

Essociate, Inc. v. 4355768 Canada Inc., No. 14-0679 JVS (DFMx) (C.D. Cal. Feb. 11, 2015). Granted a defense motion under FRCP 12(c) for judgment on the pleadings declaring United States Patent No. 6,804,660 invalid as not patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The patent claimed a method, system and computer program used in electronic commerce (e-commerce) to allow internet advertisers using existing affiliate systems to cross borders and have access to another existing affiliate system. In general, an affiliate system tracks internet e-commerce customer movements from initial advertising links to completed transactions. Affiliate systems allow those who sell products and services on the internet to determine the effectiveness of their advertising dollars. The court concluded that the claims were directed to the abstract “concept of receiving and tracking referrals from referral sources.” Moreover, “nothing of substance” was added “to the underlying abstract idea.”

Thanks to law clerk Robert Billings for assistance in summarizing these cases.