Category Archives: Patent Eligibility

Four Network Service Provider Patents Found Patent-Eligible Under § 101

Author: Paula E. Miller
Editor: Kevin D. Rodkey

In Amdoc (Israel) Ltd. v. Openet Telecom, Inc., No. 15-1180 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 1, 2016), a split panel of the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s finding that four patents directed to solving accounting and billing problems faced by network service providers were directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court decision and provided additional guidance for applying the two-step patent-eligibility test in Alice. The majority examined the claims in light of the Court’s prior decisions to determine whether the claims at issue are similar to those previously found ineligible. The Court explained that the claims at issue, even if they are directed to an abstract idea, “contain[] a sufficient ‘inventive concept’” to render them patent-eligible. The Court relied on the claims constructions of certain terms that required a specific distributed architecture and network devices “working together in a distributed manner.” The Court recognized that, although the claims may recite generic components, those components work “in an unconventional distributed fashion to solve a particular technological problem.” Continue reading

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Claims That Are Entirely Functional in Nature Are Not Patent-Eligible Under Mayo /Alice

Author: Yoonhee Kim
Editor: Aaron Gleaton Clay

In Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC v. DirecTV, LLC, Nos. 2015-1845-48 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 23, 2016), the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court order granting a motion to dismiss, holding that the asserted patent, directed to wireless streaming of regional broadcast signals to cell phones located outside the service region, was invalid based on lack of patentable subject matter.

In applying the first step of Mayo/Alice—determining whether the claim is directed to a patent ineligible concept (i.e., abstract idea)—the Court held the claimed invention was an abstract idea and “entirely functional in nature.” The Court found that missing from the claims was how to implement out-of-region broadcasting on a cell phone, and the specification was similarly deficient and in fact underscored the abstract nature of the invention.

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Streaming Under § 101: No Affinity for Patent Against Music Store App

Author: Duane L. Carver
Editor: Lauren J. Dreyer

In Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc. et al., No. 15-2080 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 23, 2016), the Federal Circuit affirmed another invalidity ruling for lack of patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  Affinity sued Amazon, alleging that it infringed a patent by marketing the Amazon Music system, which allows customers to stream music from a customized library. Amazon moved for summary judgment on the pleadings under § 101, and the Federal Circuit agreed.

Ruling that the patent was directed to the use of conventional or generic technology, such as “dial-a-joke” or “dial-a-prayer” that predated cell phones or the Internet, the Court reasoned that Affinity’s patent was directed toward the abstract concept of delivering user-selected media content to portable devices.  Further, the Court reasoned that features of the patent, such as a customizable interface and wireless streaming, did not embody an inventive concept.  The patent did not claim them with the specificity required in its claims or specification, according to the Court.

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