The Software IP Report

Patent Claims Directed to Cloud Computing Held to Encompass Patent-Ineligible Abstract Idea

By Charles Bieneman

Categories: Patent Eligibility, The Software IP Report

Patent claims directed to managing a cloud computing environment were held invalid on a motion under FRCP 12, as reciting patent-ineligible abstract subject matter in Kaavo v. Cognizant Tech. Solutions Corp., No. 14-1192-LPS-CJB (D. Del. Feb. 5, 2016).

U.S. Patent No. 8,271,974 (“the ‘974 patent”), discloses an N-tier cloud computing environment. Each tier has a specific function in a part of a larger cloud computing network. Each tier includes several servers that may be physically and/or wirelessly connected to each other such that one or more servers may be in geographically diverse datacenters.

Independent claim 1 of the ‘974 patent recites “a method for managing a cloud computing environment for use by a software application.” Applying the familiar Alice/Mayo two-step test, the court looked to the “basic character of the patent’s subject matter.” Id. at 14. Looking to both the claims and the specification, the court found that the ‘974 patent was directed to “setting up and managing a cloud computing environment.” Further, “the concept implicates an idea ‘having no particular concrete or tangible form’ and that is ‘devoid of a concrete or tangible application.’”

The court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that the ‘974 does not preempt a field of use, and that the ‘974 patent is not directed to a longstanding practice because it focuses on a recently emerging technology, that of cloud computing. The court says that “nowhere have courts concluded that a patent claim cannot be directed to an abstract idea if the claim relates to a field that is of somewhat recent vintage.”

Additionally, the court found no inventive concept in the asserted claims of the ‘974 patent. The court found no “technological or procedural limitations on that idea [of the ‘974 patent].” Instead, the court recognized that claim limitations on which the plaintiff relied were merely “generic computing technology” or were unsupported conclusory statements.