What This Means to You
- Draft patent specifications to emphasize the technical solution to a technical problem.
- After Alice, be wary of overly broad claim drafting or claim construction arguments.
In Intellectual Ventures v. Capital One, the Federal Circuit applied Alice v. CLS Bank in sweeping aside two internet-related patents asserted by Intellectual Ventures. Holding the asserted claims to be ineligible abstract ideas, the court broadly cited the lack of an “inventive concept” in the claims.
Intellectual Ventures sued Capital One for infringement of a patent directed to using a computer network for setting pre-set spending limits (i.e., budgeting), and a patent directed to customizing web pages. After claim construction, in which Intellectual Ventures argued for broad claim interpretations, the district court found the patents to be invalid as directed to abstract ideas. Intellectual Ventures appealed to the Federal Circuit.
The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court, finding the patents-in-suit to be directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas not salvaged by being tied to routine computing devices or networks.
Applying step one of the Alice analysis, the court found the patents to be directed to abstract ideas of budgeting and information tailoring. Applying step two of the analysis, the court found the claims did not recite significantly more than the abstract ideas because the claims did not include an “inventive concept.” Specifically, the court reasoned that the claims described nothing more than old concepts, such as budgeting with pre-set spending limits, or information tailoring based on location or customer demographics, combined with conventional computing devices or systems. Citing Alice, the court reasoned that an abstract idea is not rendered non-abstract merely by its connection to conventional computing devices or systems.
This case reinforces the difficulty in enforcing broad claims to internet-based technologies after Alice. Preparing more narrowly-tailored specifications and claims tied to the underlying technology may reduce the susceptibility to attack under Alice. Where appropriate, patent applications should be drafted to emphasize the technical problem and the technical solution developed by the inventors.