by Dennis Crouch
Trinity Information Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc., No. 2022-1308, — F.4th — (Fed. Cir. July 14, 2023).
Trinity Information Media sued Covalent for infringing two patents masking a strategy 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 advised for high-likelihood matches. The system makes use of standard pc elements like processors, reminiscence, servers, and many others. The ‘685 patent provides limitations about performing operations on a handheld machine, displaying outcomes through swiping, and utilizing a cell app.
The district court docket granted Covalent’s movement to dismiss, discovering the asserted claims ineligible beneath 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed after analyzing the claims beneath the two-step Alice/Mayo framework:
Step 1 – Decide if the claims are directed to a patent ineligible idea like an summary thought.
- The court docket discovered the claims are directed to the summary thought of “matching based mostly on questioning”, which entails accumulating person data, analyzing it, and displaying outcomes.
- It is a psychological course of that may very well 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 ingenious idea, i.e. one thing considerably greater than the summary thought.
- The court docket discovered the claims don’t include an ingenious idea. The extra parts like processors, servers, cell units, and many others. are generic and standard.
- They’re utilized in a standard option to apply the summary thought, 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, moderately than a single match server that must later be searched.” Sadly for the patentee these options weren’t truly required by the claims. Choose Cunningham pressed the patentee to establish particular non-conclusory allegations within the criticism about inventiveness. The patentee had problem citing something substantial.
The patentee (Trinity) offered a variety of arguments, however the court docket rejected every one in flip:
- Trinity argued the claims recite particular enhancements to pc capabilities, like utilizing “a number of match servers” and a “match aggregator.” Nevertheless, the court docket discovered these have been merely generic pc elements utilized in a standard option to implement the summary thought.
- Trinity argued the claims recite a technical resolution 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 pace or functionality. Reasonably, the main focus of the claims themselves was on the summary thought.
- Trinity argued the claims recite unconventional options like utilizing a handheld machine and swiping to evaluation matches. Nevertheless, the court docket discovered these limitations simply apply the summary thought utilizing generic expertise, and are usually not an ingenious idea. These have 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 thought stays summary even when some pc limitations are novel.
Ultimately, the appellate panel affirmed the decrease court docket’s obviousness discovering.
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Patent eligibility can typically contain underlying factual questions, however that this was not a type of circumstances. The quoted Berkheimer to clarify that ‘not each § 101 dedication incorporates real disputes over the underlying information materials to the § 101 inquiry.’ Right here, the court docket additionally concluded that declare building and discovery weren’t crucial precursors for the 101 evaluation because the patentee did not establish any proposed declare constructions or particular information that might have an effect on the 101 evaluation.