IP Law Daily Call center quality assurance patents not invalid as abstract
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Call center quality assurance patents not invalid as abstract

By Jody Coultas, J.D.

Red Box Recorders Ltd. was unable to show that patents asserted by Verint Systems Inc. and covering hardware and software that enable companies to record, monitor, analyze, and secure electronic communications were invalid as abstract, according to the federal district court in New York City (Verint Systems Inc. v. Red Box Recorders Ltd., December 7, 2016, Forrest, K.).

Call centers using Verint’s products can capture, secure, and analyze large amounts of data for quality assurance purposes and integrate what is happening on a particular employee’s computer with what is occurring on the phone.

The court previously found multiple claims of seven of the patents invalid as indefinite during a claim construction hearing. Eleven of the patent terms at issue were means-plus-function claims that were invalid for failing to disclose an adequate structure.

Red Box moved to invalidate all claims of six patents-at-issue, arguing that the patents are directed to the abstract idea of "processing (i.e., recording, monitoring, analyzing, and/or securing) data and information in telecommunications."

To determine whether claims contain ineligible patent subject matter under § 101, a court must apply the two-step test outlined in Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). The first step is to determine whether the patent claims are directed to an abstract idea. The main concern of step one is "whether the focus of the claims is on the specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities . . . or, instead, on a process that qualifies as an ‘abstract idea’ for which computers are invoked merely as a tool." If the claims are direct to an abstract idea, the court then must determine whether the elements of the claim contain an inventive concept sufficient to transform the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application. As part of step two of Alice, the court asks: (1) whether there is an improvement recited; (2) whether there is a benefit recited; (3) whether there is something new recited; (4) whether the patent has one or more particular applications; and (5) what the steps and limits to be followed in applying the invention?

The ’854 patent. U.S. Patent No. 7,774,854 (the ’854 patent)—which discloses a method that is directed at recording the communication, electronically identifying information to be protected, and rendering it unintelligible to anyone without authorization to access that information—was not invalid as abstract, according to the court. To accomplish the method, the specification describes a monitoring system that receives information from a communications network and uses a set of rules that can be stored in a database and that control the start/stop/break functions of the recording device. It was not an abstract concept contemporaneously and automatically record, screen, and protect sensitive information exchanged over an electronic network. The specification describes advantages over existing methods, and the improvements over prior art render it patent eligible.

The ’324 and ’386 patents. U.S. Patent Nos. RE43,324 (the ’324 patent) and RE43,386 (the ’386 patent) relate to issues confronted in call centers handling "voice over internet protocol" ("VOIP") communications as opposed to standard, analog calls. Inventing a method for monitoring VOIP interactions required more than merely listening to a telephone call. Even if the patents were directed to an abstract idea, the specification outlining advantages over prior art were sufficient to find an inventive concept. The invention provided the instantaneous identification of a parameter to be monitored and an ability to hone in on that at the correct time/place.

The ’798 and ’220 patents. Patents covering a synchronized monitoring of call-center interactions were not invalid as abstract, according to the court. U.S. Patent Nos. 5,790,798 (the ’798 patent) and 6,510,220 (the ’220 patent) concern enabling synchronized monitoring of call-center customer interactions that can occur both over a telephone and computer. The invention also provides a method to compare two sequential display screens and determine the differences, copy a changed region, and transport that copy to a remote location for review on the screen of a monitoring workstation. Claim 2 provides a method for complex monitoring of two different mediums of communication occurring in tandem (a display screen and telephone call), set out in a series of concrete and particularized steps that allow simultaneous monitoring and recording. This specification passed the step one abstract analysis. Also, claim 2 provided an inventive concept.

The ’763 patent. Finally, the court found that Verint’s patent covering call analysis was not abstract and contained an inventive concept. U.S. Patent No. 8,189,763 (the ’763 patent) covers an invention that provides a method for a far more robust call analysis via the disclosed graphical user interface ("GUI") pursuant to which real-time call progress can be analyzed. The specification identifies at least five separate issues that the patent seeks to address. The GUI disclosed was not abstract, it was directed to a highly technical way to capture, record, and present certain very specific information with specific limitations for specific purposes. Also, the patent offers multiple improvements over prior art sufficient to meet the requirements of step two of Alice.

The case is No. 14-cv-5403(SAS).

Attorneys: Ernest Edward Badway (Fox Rothschild, Attorneys at Law) for Verint Systems Inc. and Verint Americas Inc. Deepro R. Mukerjee (Alston & Bird, LLP) for Red Box Recorders Ltd.

Companies: Verint Systems Inc.; Red Box Recorders Ltd.

MainStory: TopStory Patent TechnologyInternet NewYorkNews

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