A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: § 101

"Not invalid" may be a double negative, but it's definitely not the same as "valid." Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Chief Judge Connolly issued a short opinion this morning denying a motion for summary judgment that a patent was not patent ineligible, in C.R. Bard, Inc. v. Angiodynamics, Inc., C.A. No. 20-1544-CFC-SRF (D. Del. Jan. 3, 2024).

In short, the patentee had previously succeeded on the issue of § 101 ineligibility at the Federal Circuit, which reversed a lower-court finding of ineligibility and held that:

[T]he asserted claims in Bard’s three patents are directed to eligible subject matter under § 101.

C.R. Bard, Inc. v. Med. Components, Inc., C.A. Nos. 2022-1136, 2022-1186, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS …

Terracotta Warriors
Aaron Greenwood, Unsplash

Along the lines of on Friday's post, Judge Noreika issued an order in a different case this week denying a § 101 motion because it addressed only a subset of claims, and suggested that more claims may be asserted:

ORAL ORDER re (10 in 1:23-cv-00174-MN) (9 in 1:23-cv-00220-MN) MOTION to Dismiss - Defendants have filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that claim 1 in two of the four asserted patents is directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. . . . Defendants state in a footnote that they are not addressing other claims, but that very same footnote suggests that the Court may face additional § 101 arguments in the future should Plaintiff add further asserted claims from the two patents at issue in the motion and that the Court may also later have to address § 101 with respect to the remaining two patents not subject to the present motion. (C.A. No. 23-220, D.I. 10 at 2 n.2). Given that Defendants' § 101 motions suggest that the Court will be forced to address § 101 issues in this case seriatim and because doing so is not a good use of the Court's time, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' motions to dismiss are DENIED without prejudice to renew as appropriate during summary judgment. ORDERED by Judge Maryellen Noreika on 10/23/2023.

AlmondNet, Inc. v. Freewheel Media, Inc., C.A. No. 23-220 (D. Del. Oct. 23, 2023).

What was in the footnote? An admission that the motion doesn't resolve all of the claims:

This motion is directed to only two claims—claim 1 of the ’307 patent and claim 1 of the ’249 patent—because they are the only claims of those patents that the Complaint alleges Defendants infringe. . . . While Plaintiffs could conceivably assert other claims of the ’307 and ’249 patents if the Court grants this motion, they would do so at their peril because those other claims add only incidental limitations to the two at issue here. Thus, resolution of this motion will likely dispose of two of the four asserted patents in this case. Moreover, because Plaintiffs’ patents are all similar—and all face similar obstacles under Section 101—Defendants believe that deciding this motion now will streamline and promote resolution of this entire case, and possibly of other AlmondNet cases as well, since they involve similar or overlapping patents. . . . Accordingly, Defendants believe that deciding this motion now, at the Rule 12 stage, will be an efficient use of the Court’s resources.

Id., D.I. 10 at 2 n.2.

This outcome is not unusual, but it's definitely something to keep in mind when evaluating ...

"How many more claims will we assert? I'm glad you asked..." Klim Musalimov, Unsplash

We noted last year how Judge Noreika has sometimes denied § 101 motions to dismiss that challenge large numbers of claims, holding that it is more efficient to deal with such motions at the SJ stage (where, presumably, the case would be narrowed).

This week, the Court addressed a § 101 motion in Global Tel*Link Corporation v. JACS Solutions, Inc., C.A. No. 23-500-MN (D. Del.). The motion seeks a § 101 ineligibility finding for 5 claims across 5 asserted patents—i.e., one claim per patent. That's all the plaintiff asserted in the complaint. Id., D.I. 20.

In response, the plaintiff (wisely) argued …

All across the district, defendants silenty wonder:
All across the district, defendants silenty wonder: "Oh crap, is this gonna be a thing now?" NASA, Unsplash

Here's one you don't see every day. Back in March, Judge Burke granted a § 101 motion to dismiss as to the claims of two of the six asserted patents in Topia Technology, Inc. v. Egnyte, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1821-CJB (D. Del. Mar. 31, 2023).

In that opinion, the patentee did not dispute that the claims were directed to the abstract idea of synchronizing a file across a network:

Plaintiff, for its part, does[ not] dispute that synchronizing multiple versions of a file across network computers is an abstract idea, and the Court agrees that it is. Again, …

Tanks
Patrick Federi, Unsplash

Judge Andrews resolved what seems like a tough § 101 motion today, and I thought the claims of the patent (and the outcome) were interesting.

The patent involves a system for mixing gasoline and butane. The patent specification said that these fuels were previously mixed in multiple ways, including in a laborious process involving manually adding butane to a tank of gasoline and then stirring the two together.

There were a number of claims at issue, but the one that stands out most to me simply claims the whole system and what it does, without claiming how the components work:

A system for blending gasoline and butane at a tank farm comprising:
a) a tank of …

Federal Circuit on the left vs. Federal Circuit on the right. Will we get to see round 2?
Federal Circuit on the left vs. Federal Circuit on the right. Will we get to see round 2? Charl Folscher, Unsplash

We talked a couple of days ago about how, in Longbeam Technologies LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1559-CFC (D. Del.), Chief Judge Connolly stayed the action after raising plaintiff's inadequate disclosures at a § 101 hearing.

But, at the same hearing, plaintiff actually prevailed on the § 101 motion—and Chief Judge Connolly made some notable comments about how the Federal Circuit has responded to his previous § 101 decisions, and what that means for cases going forward.

Case 1, Universal Secure: Affirmed

The first case, Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc., …

Apples at which the patentee will not be getting a third bite.
Apples at which the patentee will not be getting a third bite. Pierpaolo Riondato, Unsplash

Back in February, Judge Andrews granted a motion to dismiss a patent with claims directed to the abstract ideas of "the recording, storing, delivering, and deleting of media content on a mobile device," and "remote control" of a mobile device. Clear Doc, Inc. v. RiversideFM, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1422-RGA, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31168, at *15 (D. Del. Feb. 22, 2022).

He dismissed the claims on § 101 grounds, but granted leave to amend on the theory that the patentee could show an inventive concept:

Riverside's motion to dismiss is granted. Dismissal is without prejudice. OpenReel has requested leave to amend. (D.I. 46 at 19 n.1). I will grant that request, as it is possible OpenReel could successfully amend its complaint.

Clear Doc, Inc. v. RiversideFM, Inc., Civil Action No. 21-1422-RGA, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31168, at *15 (D. Del. Feb. 22, 2022)

Id. at 19.

Taking the Court up on its offer, plaintiff amended their complaint to allege that certain feature constituted "inventive functions" under Alice—but the Court wasn't buying it:

The FAC has not alleged facts supporting the conclusion that the claims contain an unconventional technological solution as opposed to an abstract idea ...

Legos make for good representative claim analogies.
Hello I'm Nik, Unsplash

We've talk before about how accused infringers so often give short shrift to the representative claims issue in § 101 briefing, and how it deserves a lot of attention if you want to prevail on a § 101 motion to dismiss.

Judge Burke issued an R&R yesterday, following his recent § 101 day, invalidating one claim of an asserted patent—but declining to hold 27 other claims valid, citing the accused infringer's poor representative claims argument:

I will note that I [have] been reviewing Section 101 motions like these for most of my entire 11 years as a judge[;] during that time, I have resolved many, many such motions. But I cannot recall ever having seen …

"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 …

Plaintiff Trident Holdings, LLC at oral argument, pointing to a claim construction
Kedar Gadge, Unsplash

Having a legitimate claim construction dispute that would lead to subject matter eligibility is a great way to survive a § 101 motion. Ideally, obviously, that argument should be set forth in an answering brief. But an opinion yesterday describes how a patentee was able to avoid a negative result on its § 101 motion through claim construction arguments offered at oral argument:

[Plaintiff] Trident suggested for the first time at oral argument that the “optimization engine” and “adaptive scoring” limitations required construction before the Court decides eligibility. . . . That claim construction wasn’t expressly raised until the oral argument suggests that [Trident] may not have actually thought there was a claim construction issue …