The Software IP Report

Two More District Courts Follow Alice

By Charles Bieneman

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

Having just posted on a slew of U.S. District Court cases holding patent claims patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Alice case, here are two more:

Smart Systems v. Chicago Transit Authority, No. 14 C 08053 (N.D. Ill. July 10, 2015).  Patent claims directed to using credit cards to pay for public transit were held invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101, and a defendant’s Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings granted.  All of the claims were directed to “paying for a subway or bus ride with a credit card.”  The court acknowledged that the patents encompassed more, to wit, “how the transit operator should collect bankcard data, recognize certain bankcards, and store that information in memory to fix what Smart Systems characterizes as the ‘latency’ problem.”  Nonetheless, the claims simply sped up the performance of a financial transaction.  The claims had no additional technical innovation, but simply included limitations to a technological environment.  The invalidated patents were U.S. Patent Nos. 7,566,003; 7,568,617; 8,505,816; and 8,662,390.

IPLearn-Focus, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 14-cv-00151-JD (N.D. Cal. July 10, 2015).  Summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 was granted on three patents.  Each of the patents was directed to a computer using a “sensor to monitor a student’s behavior for signs of inattention or lack of concentration, and when needed provides responsive cues.”  The plaintiff did “not meaningfully dispute that the challenged claims in its patents are directed to the abstract idea of teaching.”  The patents sought “to implement on a computer the watchful eye of a good teacher.”  There was no inventive concept; “the patents describe a routine computer-based application of the process of monitored instruction.”  Their “core issue” was “pedagogical, not technological.”  Further, there was the potential for broad preemption.  The invalidated patents were U.S. Patent Nos. 8,475,174; 8,538,320; and 8,538,321.