A Broader View of Analogous Prior Art

Author: Jonathan J. Fagan
Editor: Lauren J. Dreyer

In Unwired Planet, LLC v. Google Inc., Nos. 2015-1810 & 1811 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2016), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s holding that the patent was invalid as obviousness, agreeing that a cited prior art reference was analogous prior art. The patented method claimed “farther-over-nearer” search result prioritization. When a mobile device user searched for a service, the claimed device would display nearby service providers but would prioritize paying providers. The Court considered whether a primary reference—Brohoff—in view of a second reference—Galitz—rendered the claim obvious. Brohoff taught a wireless network returning location-based results of service providers, while Galitz discussed methods of displaying and organizing results, such as alphabetization.

In concluding that Galitz constituted analogous prior art, the Court focused broadly on the patent’s solutions regarding the display of information on mobile devices, rather than narrowly on wireless network systems.  The Court concluded that the patent addressed how to display and order information on a mobile device and that Galitz dealt with the display and organization of menu information. The Court also concluded that both Galitz and the patent concerned the same field of endeavor: “interface design.”

 

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