Person Matching Patent Fails 101 Check for Missing Technical Enchancment

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 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 “chance of match” between customers. Connections are advised for high-likelihood matches. The system makes use of typical laptop parts like processors, reminiscence, servers, and many others. The ‘685 patent provides limitations about performing operations on a handheld system, displaying outcomes through swiping, and utilizing a cell 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 accumulating person data, analyzing it, and displaying outcomes.
  • This can be a psychological course of that may very well be carried out by people with out a pc. Utilizing generic technical parts 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 concept.

  • The court docket discovered the claims don’t comprise an ingenious idea. The extra parts like processors, servers, cell gadgets, and many others. are generic and standard.
  • They’re utilized in a standard strategy 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, relatively 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 grievance about inventiveness. The patentee had issue citing something substantial.

The patentee (Trinity) offered plenty of arguments, however the court docket rejected each in flip:

  • Trinity argued the claims recite particular enhancements to laptop capabilities, like utilizing “a number of match servers” and a “match aggregator.” Nonetheless, the court docket discovered these have been merely generic laptop parts utilized in a standard strategy 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 sooner, which isn’t sufficient for patent eligibility.
  • Trinity argued people can not carry out psychological matching as quick because the claimed system. Nonetheless, the court docket famous the claims don’t require the alleged enhancements in pace or functionality. Somewhat, the main focus of the claims themselves was on the summary concept.
  • Trinity argued the claims recite unconventional options like utilizing a handheld system and swiping to evaluate matches. Nonetheless, the court docket discovered these limitations simply apply the summary concept utilizing generic know-how, and should not an ingenious idea.  These have been generic parts by the point of the invention.
  • Trinity relied on allegations that some limitations weren’t within the prior artwork. Nonetheless, 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.

= = =

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 dedication comprises 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 vital precursors for the 101 evaluation for the reason that patentee didn’t establish any proposed declare constructions or particular information that will have an effect on the 101 evaluation.