Federal Circuit Nos. 2014-1048, -1061, -1062, -1063
Applying the 'two-step test' of Mayo/Alice, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that “the use of a conventional web browser Back and Forward navigational functionalities without data loss in an online application consisting of dynamically generated web pages” is not patent-eligible subject matter.
The two-step analytic protocol introduced in Mayo directs attention to whether the claim contains an “inventive concept.” Determination of what is an inventive concept favors inquiries analogous to those undertaken for determination of patentable invention. In Alice, the Supreme Court elaborated that, for a perceived abstract idea, if the claim “contains an ‘inventive concept’ sufficient to ‘transform’ the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application,” then the claims pass the test of eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
On appeal, IPC argued that the “maintaining state” element of the claim enables use of standard browser Back and Forward button functions without loss of data and without losing the user's “place” in the application process, in effort to acquire an inventive concept with respect to the maintaining element.
The Federal Circuit deemed the character of the claimed invention to be an abstract idea: the idea of retaining information in the navigation of online forms. Under step two of the two-step test, the court denied an inventive concept in “maintaining state” with the observation that the mechanism for maintaining the state is not described, although it is stated to be the essential innovation in the specification. Other elements were given no weight because the specification refers to the “browser Back and Forward button functionality” as “conventional”, "well-known” and “common”. The court also explained that IPC’s proposed interpretation of “maintaining state” describes the effect or result dissociated from any method by which maintaining the state is accomplished upon the activation of an icon.