In Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Capital One Bank (USA), NA, Appeal No. 2014-1506, the Federal Circuit held that claims directed to (a) storing and transmitting data related to a user’s pre-set spending limit (that is, budgeting), and (b) customizing web page content based on user information and navigation data, were patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Intellectual Ventures sued Capital One for patent infringement. The district court found that two of the patents claimed ineligible subject matter under § 101.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the ineligibility of the asserted claims after applying the two-step analysis of Alice Corp v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014).  Regarding the budgeting claims, the Federal Circuit determined that the asserted claims were directed to the abstract idea of: “tracking financial transactions to determine whether they exceed a pre-set spending limit.”  The Federal Circuit stated that the abstract idea here was not meaningfully different from the ideas found to be abstract in other cases. Moving tosecond step of Alice, the Federal Circuit determined that the claims contained no inventive concept because they recited generic computer elements and simply instructed one to “apply” the abstract idea to a computer. Further, the budgeting calculations at issue here are unpatentable because they could be done with pencil and paper. 

Regarding the webpage content claims, the Federal Circuit held that the asserted claims were abstract because they were directed to a fundamental practice.  For example, customizing information based on known customer data has been long used in advertising inserts for newspapers. Regarding the second step, the Federal Circuit concluded there was no inventive concept in the asserted claims because the “interactive interface” and “dynamic” limitations were generic computer elements, and simply increasing the speed or efficiency of the process through the use of a computer does not confer patent eligibility. The Federal Circuit also distinguished the present case from DDR Holdings, LLC v. Hotels.com, L.P., 773 F.3d 1245 (Fed. Cir. 2014), holding that, unlike the claims at issue in DDR, IV’s claims do not address problems unique to the Internet.