by Dennis Crouch
Trinity Data Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc., No. 2022-1308, — F.4th — (Fed. Cir. July 14, 2023).
Trinity Data Media sued Covalent for infringing two patents protecting a means of connecting customers based mostly on polling query solutions – US Patent Nos. 9,087,321 and 10,936,685. The patents describe a system the place customers reply polling questions and the system makes use of these solutions to discover a “probability of match” between customers. Connections are instructed for high-likelihood matches. The system makes use of typical laptop elements like processors, reminiscence, servers, and so on. The ‘685 patent provides limitations about performing operations on a handheld gadget, displaying outcomes through swiping, and utilizing a cellular app.
The district court docket granted Covalent’s movement to dismiss, discovering the asserted claims ineligible below 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed after analyzing the claims below the two-step Alice/Mayo framework:
Step 1 – Decide if the claims are directed to a patent ineligible idea like an summary concept.
- The court docket discovered the claims are directed to the summary concept of “matching based mostly on questioning”, which includes amassing person data, analyzing it, and displaying outcomes.
- It is a psychological course of that could possibly be carried out by people with out a pc. Utilizing generic technical elements doesn’t change the character of the claims.
Step 2 – Decide if the claims recite an creative idea, i.e. one thing considerably greater than the summary concept.
- The court docket discovered the claims don’t comprise an creative idea. The extra components like processors, servers, cellular units, and so on. are generic and traditional.
- They’re utilized in a standard method to apply the summary concept, which is inadequate to qualify as considerably extra.
- The alleged advance of real-time matching based mostly on polling doesn’t make the claims patent eligible. That merely displays use of generic computer systems to hurry up the method.
At oral arguments, the patentee’s lawyer (Gregory Hillyer) argued that a greater framing of the invention was the requiring of a “distinctive identifier to the reply in order that that reply can discover its place in a brand new and novel array of match servers, somewhat than a single match server that must later be searched.” Sadly for the patentee these options weren’t really required by the claims. Decide Cunningham pressed the patentee to establish particular non-conclusory allegations within the criticism about inventiveness. The patentee had issue citing something substantial.
The patentee (Trinity) offered numerous arguments, however the court docket rejected every one in flip:
- Trinity argued the claims recite particular enhancements to laptop capabilities, like utilizing “a number of match servers” and a “match aggregator.” Nevertheless, the court docket discovered these had been merely generic laptop elements utilized in a standard method to implement the summary concept.
- Trinity argued the claims recite a technical answer to an issue, like permitting “fast real-time matching.” However the court docket discovered this merely makes use of computer systems to make the method quicker, which isn’t sufficient for patent eligibility.
- Trinity argued people can’t carry out psychological matching as quick because the claimed system. Nevertheless, the court docket famous the claims don’t require the alleged enhancements in velocity or functionality. Reasonably, the main focus of the claims themselves was on the summary concept.
- Trinity argued the claims recite unconventional options like utilizing a handheld gadget and swiping to evaluate matches. Nevertheless, the court docket discovered these limitations simply apply the summary concept utilizing generic know-how, and usually are not an creative idea. These had been generic elements by the point of the invention.
- Trinity relied on allegations that some limitations weren’t within the prior artwork. Nevertheless, the court docket discounted these conclusory statements, noting that an summary concept stays summary even when some laptop limitations are novel.
Ultimately, the appellate panel affirmed the decrease court docket’s obviousness discovering.
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Patent eligibility can generally contain underlying factual questions, however that this was not a type of circumstances. The quoted Berkheimer to clarify that ‘not each § 101 willpower accommodates real disputes over the underlying information materials to the § 101 inquiry.’ Right here, the court docket additionally concluded that declare development and discovery weren’t essential precursors for the 101 evaluation because the patentee didn’t establish any proposed declare constructions or particular information that will have an effect on the 101 evaluation.