Two Evolutionary Intelligence data-processing patents that disclosed a "System and Method for Creating and Manipulating Information Containers with Dynamic Registers" were invalid because the patents claimed patent-ineligible subject matter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has decided. The district court’s grant of the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissal of the infringement claims was affirmed (Evolutionary Intelligence LLC v. Sprint Nextel Corporation, February 17, 2017, Lourie, A.).
Evolutionary Intelligence (EI) filed suit against 12 companies—Sprint Nextel Corp., Sprint Communications Company, Sprint Spectrum, Sprint Solutions, Apple, Facebook, Foursquare Labs, Groupon, LivingSocial, Twitter, Yelp, and Millennial Media—for the infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,010,536 ("the '536 patent") and 7,702,682 ("the '682 patent").
EI owns the asserted patents, which have the same written description and are directed to a "means to create and manipulate information containers." According to EI, the patents contained three broad categories of independent claims: (1) methods of tracking searches; (2) time-based information containers; and (3) location-based information containers. The written descriptions explained that the containers stored information on various types of computer and digital networks, and on physical, published, and "other" media. The containers included various types of "registers," which performed functions such as identifying the container or contents, providing rules of interaction between containers, and recording the history of the container. The containers also had "gateways" to control the interaction of a container with "other containers, systems or processes."
In October 2015, the district court granted the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissal, finding that all of the claims of the asserted patents were invalid as being directed to the abstract idea of "searching and processing containerized data" and that the invention merely computerizes "age-old forms of information processing." EI timely appealed.
The appellate court determined that the claims were directed to selecting and sorting information by user interest or subject matter, which is a "long standing activity of libraries and other human enterprises." EI’s contention that the claims were directed to an improvement in the functioning of the computer itself, rather than to an abstract idea, was rejected. The court noted that the collection of information, including when it is limited to a particular content, is an abstract idea.
In addition, the claims lacked an inventive concept to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. EI’s argument that the claims contained an inventive concept because they recite a specific arrangement of particular structures, operating in a specific way, also was rejected. The court noted it was undisputed that merely using a computer was insufficient and EI conceded that "containers," registers," and "gateways" were conventional and routine. Whether analyzed individually or as an ordered combination, the court concluded that the claims recited those conventional elements at a level of generality that was too high to constitute an inventive concept.
Attorneys: Todd M. Kennedy (Gutride Safier LLP) for Evolutionary Intelligence, LLC. Heidi Lyn Keefe and Christopher C. Campbell (Cooley LLP) for Facebook Inc. and Millennial Media, Inc. Jay E. Heidrick (Polsinelli PC) for Sprint Nextel Corp., Sprint Communications Company, L.P., Sprint Spectrum, L.P., and Sprint Solutions, Inc. Patrick E. King (Simpson Thacher & Bartlett) for Apple Inc. Craig R. Smith (Lando & Anastasi, LLP) for Foursquare Labs, Inc. Thomas Lee Duston (Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP) for Groupon, Inc. Steven Moore (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP) for Twitter, Inc. and Yelp, Inc.
Companies: Evolutionary Intelligence, LLC; Sprint Nextel Corp.; Sprint Communications Company, L.P.; Sprint Spectrum, L.P.; Sprint Solutions, Inc.; Apple Inc.; Facebook Inc.; Foursquare Labs, Inc.; Groupon, Inc.; LivingSocial, Inc.; Twitter, Inc.; Yelp, Inc.; Millennial Media, Inc.
MainStory: TopStory Patent FedCirNews
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