A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: Section 101

"The white one in the middle is representative..." Andrew E. Russell, CC BY 2.0

This week, Judge Noreika denied a § 101 motion because it challenged more than 60 claims, and because the parties disagreed as to whether any claims were representative:

WHEREAS, Plaintiff’s [§ 101] motion does not precisely specify which claims’ eligibility it is challenging . . . , but in any event details challenges to more than sixty claims’ eligibility . . . without any agreement about representativeness . . . ;
WHEREAS, should this case proceed to trial, the asserted claims will be narrowed through the parties’ disclosures and discovery and, as such, most of the claims subject to the Plaintiff’s § 101 motion will not …

Conventional components arranged in an unconventional way.
Conventional components arranged in an unconventional way. Devilz, Unsplash

Judge Burke today denied a § 101 motion to dismiss relating to a patent with a single, lengthy claim related to a new type of system-on-a-chip (SOC) that eliminates redundant components by using multiple "media processing units."

The claim sets out the structure of the apparatus, including that the media processing units have certain features and functions:

1. An apparatus for processing data, comprising:
a plurality of media processing units, each . . . :
a multiplier . . . ;
an arithmetic unit . . . ;
an arithmetic logic unit . . . ; and
a bit manipulation unit . . . .
each of the plurality of media processors for performing
at least one . . . operation comprising:
receiving . . . an instruction . . . ;
receiving . . . input/output data . . . ;
processing the data . . . ; and
providing at least one . . . result . . . .

Judge Burke found that the claims were not directed to the abstract idea ...

All six challenged patents survived Judge Stark's most recent § 101 Day, held on November 22, 2021. The six patents were spread across three cases. Continuing his usual practice, Judge Stark ruled from the bench after hearing argument in all three cases, and then issued a written order (see below) incorporating the transcript of his bench ruling and the formal orders on the pending motions.

DNA
DNA DNA, ANIRUDH, Unsplash

In the first case, considering Step One of the Alice framework, Judge Stark found that the challenged patent was not directed to the abstract idea posited by the defendant ("an algorithmic method of manipulating and combining genetic sequence data using an [intermediate] data set") and instead "enables the identification of mutations with positional accuracy in a computationally tractable manner," solving a prior art problem - notably, that sequence assembly providing for accurate detection of variants was often computationally intractable for high-throughput analysis.

Judge Stark denied the motion to dismiss based on the Step One analysis.

In the second case, Judge Stark took the somewhat unusual path of deciding Step Two of the Alice test before Step One. He explained:

The Federal Circuit has employed a similar approach and resolved 101 issues at Step Two in several of its cases, ...

Most summary judgment motions in patent cases are denied. That's one reason Judge Connolly issued a standing order earlier this year requiring that parties rank their summary judgment motions and explaining that in most cases he will not consider a party's summary judgment motion if he has previously denied a summary judgment motion by that party.

Judge Connolly noted that "the complexity, voluminous record, competing expert testimony, and scorched-earth lawyering in the typical patent case make it almost inevitable that a disputed material fact will preclude summary judgment." Nonetheless, he expressed hope "that an effectively managed summary judgment practice can bring about efficiencies and cost savings."

A few days ago, in Chromadex, Inc. v. Elysium Health, Inc., C.A. No. 18-1434-CFC, Judge Connolly granted a motion for summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101, just weeks before trial...

Server
electronic wire lot photo, Massimo Botturi, Unsplash

Given the liberal amendment standard in federal court, it is not surprising that plaintiffs faced with § 101 challenges to their asserted patents may attempt to introduce factual issues through amended pleadings to avoid a dismissal.

Judge Connolly recently permitted the plaintiff in the consolidated Realtime Data litigation to amend its complaints after he had twice found plaintiff's patents (involving data compression) invalid under § 101. RealTime Data LLC v. Array Networks Inc., C.A. No. 17-800-CFC.
But the amendments were not enough to save plaintiff's patents, and Judge Connolly walked through the amendments to explain why.

First, the amended complaints asserted that certain claims were not representative of others, and that different limitations "must be considered separately for for the purposes of § 101." But these statements were deemed "conclusory," and in any event, the plaintiff failed to "explain why these limitations are relevant to subject-matter eligibility."

Second, he found that all but one of the "new" claim construction positions were already before the Court, and the remaining proposal (to construe "data accelerator" as "hardware or software with one or more compression ...

In response to early Section 101 motions, plaintiffs often assert that claim construction is necessary before a ruling on patent eligibility can occur. For plaintiffs looking for quick settlements and dismissals, avoiding an early ruling on Section 101 is a win. In most cases, successfully arguing that claim construction is required pushes the timeline out for resolution of Section 101 issues substantially. That is not always the case, however. Judge Stark recently ordered an "expedited Markman proceeding" on terms the plaintiff had identified during Section 101 briefing, short-circuiting the usual process and setting up a possible second round of Section 101 motions.

On Friday, Chief Judge Stark released his opinion summarizing his bench rulings from his most recent Section 101 day. This is how the patents fared:

Content Square v. Quantum Metric, Inc., C.A. No. 20-832-LPS (D. Del.)

In the first case, Content Square, the Court invalidated the claims of 2 of the 5 asserted patents.

Not this kind of web crawling.
Not this kind of web crawling. Michael Anfang, Unsplash

The invalidated patents related to "heat map patents," which relate to displaying heat maps of web browsing data. These include U.S. Patent Nos. 10,063,645 and 10,079,737.

The third patent, which was not invalidated, related to "creating multiple versions of a website to determine users' preferences." Interestingly, the Court held …

Objections to Reports and Recommendations are something like an appeal. The District Judge is tasked with addressing the alleged errors of the Magistrate Judge de novo only to the extent they are "properly objected to." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). Thus, it is the job of the parties to raise objections to an R&R in a procedurally proper way. If they fail to do so, the District Judge is hamstrung to an extent. This outcome was on display in a recent ruling by Judge Andrews, in which both sides failed to properly object to a portion of the Magistrate Judge's R&R, leaving a patent with "serious" validity problems alive (for now).

Wilmington, <a href='#' class='abbreviation' data-bs-toggle='tooltip' data-placement='top' title='Delaware'>DE</a>
Wilmington, DE Andrew Russell, CC BY 2.0

As we noted recently, Chief Judge Stark has a practice of holding "§ 101 days," in which he hears oral argument on a number of § 101 motions all at once, each from a different case. He typically issues decisions from the bench regarding each motion—which is always exciting—and follows up later with a written decision.

At first it seemed that § 101 days tended to be fatal for the patents involved, but more recent hearings have shown otherwise.

On Friday, Chief Judge Stark posted the schedule and public access information for his next § 101 day, set …

Terracotta revetment with a griffin
The Met

Yesterday, Judge Noreika denied an early Section 101 challenge to two patents-in-suit, in light of a factual dispute regarding unconventionality of certain aspects of the claimed invention.

Although plaintiff managed to survive the § 101 motion, it failed to meet the relatively un-demanding standard for pleading direct infringement – a test that would have been satisfied if the plaintiff had simply "identified the . . . accused products and alleged that the accused products met 'each and every element of at least one claim' of the asserted patents, either literally or equivalently." ...