The Court found that the patent was not directed to an abstract idea—though it noted that it was a close call—and that, regardless, the invention contained an inventive concept under Step 2 of Alice.
We've all read about dozens (or more) of § 101 opinions over the last few years, but here are a few points of interest from Judge Hall's opinion:
- Judge Hall closely examined the representativeness of the alleged representative claim, and rejected it as unrepresentative. Choose carefully!
- The patentee conceded that the individual elements of the claim are all generic components, but prevailed anyway on the theory that the combination of them is non-conventional and non-generic (at least at the 12(b)(6) stage).
- Judge Hall relied on statements in the complaint to support a finding of no invalidity. Some have questioned the value of these, but plaintiff here clearly got some benefit from them here:
Plaintiff’s first amended complaint, which I must take as true at this stage, alleges that the claimed arrangement of generic components is not routine [or] conventional and that the claimed invention solves a known problem with ridesharing safety with “a unique and previously unknown and non-conventional solution.”
- The Court included a nice quote summarizing the current state of § 101 law as to Step 1 of Alice:
At this stage in the development of § 101 law, it is widely acknowledged that there is no single, comprehensive definition of what is an abstract idea and that determining which claims are directed to abstract ideas and which are not has not proved to be a simple task.
- Judge Hall divided the current § 101 lines of cases into three different groups—noting that Judge Bryson did the same while sitting in designation in Delaware—but found that the claims didn't fit cleanly into any of them:
- Methods of organizing human activity (unpatentable)
- Improvements to computer technology (patentable)
- Purely functional without a specific means of achieving the functions (unpatentable)
While Judge Hall recommended denial of the motion, she also left the door open to a renewed motion at the summary judgment stage, possibly based on a different abstract idea. So, even if Judge Andrews adopts this R&R, we may be seeing more on this down the line.