Section 101 Gaining Momentum: Applying Physics to Uncommon Inertial Sensor Configuration Is Not an Abstract Idea

Author: Christopher C. Johns 
Editor: Kevin D. Rodkey

In Thales Visionix Inc. v. United States, No. 15-5150 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 8, 2017), the Federal Circuit reversed a decision of the Court of Federal Claims that found claims drawn to an inertial tracking system patent-ineligible under Section 101.

Thales sued the U.S. Government, alleging infringement of Thales’s patent directed to an inertial tracking system by the helmet-mounted display of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The patent claims a tracking system with a first sensor on an object being tracked, a second sensor on a moving reference frame, and an element that determines the tracked object’s orientation relative to the moving reference frame using signals from both sensors.

The Court of Federal Claims found the claims were directed to “the abstract idea of using laws of nature governing motion to track two objects” were not patent eligible under Section 101.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed, finding the claims “nearly indistinguishable” from those in the Supreme Court’s Diamond v. Diehr decision, because the claims use mathematical equations in conjunction with “inertial sensors in a non-conventional manner to reduce errors in measuring the relative position and orientation of a moving object on a moving reference frame.” The Federal Circuit explained that using a mathematical equation “does not doom the claims to abstraction.” The claims, the court explained, do not seek to claim the equations themselves, but instead “seek to protect only the application of physics to the unconventional configuration of sensors.” Accordingly, the court held that the claims are not directed to an abstract idea and are patent-eligible.


DISCLAIMER: Although we wish to hear from you, information exchanged in this blog cannot and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post any information that you consider to be personal or confidential. If you wish for Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP to consider representing you, in order to establish an attorney-client relationship you must first enter a written representation agreement with Finnegan. Contact us for additional information. One of our lawyers will be happy to discuss the possibility of representation with you. Additional disclaimer information.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: