Federal Circuit Summaries
Before Lourie, O’Malley, and Taranto. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Summary: Claims may be determined patent ineligible on the pleadings where no facts are asserted from which a non-abstract improvement may be plausibly inferred. Advances within the realm of abstract ideas, no matter how ground-breaking, are insufficient to render a claim patent eligible.
SAP filed a declaratory judgment action and moved for judgement on the pleadings that all the claims of InvestPic’s patent directed toward “statistical analyses of investment information” are patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The district court granted the motion and InvestPic appealed.
Under the first step of the Alice two-step framework, the Federal Circuit found the “focus” of InvestPic’s claims to be plainly on the abstract concepts of selection, mathematical analysis, and display of information. The Federal Circuit distinguished InvestPic’s claims from those previously found to be patent eligible under Federal Circuit precedent, finding that unlike those claims, InvestPic’s claims were directed to improvements that were outside the “physical realm.” The Federal Circuit reiterated that limiting the collection and analysis of information to a particular content or source, such as “real investments,” does not make a claim less abstract.
Under the second step of the Alice framework, the Federal Circuit concluded that all of the claim details identified by InvestPic were themselves abstract and/or unsupported by any factual allegations by which one could plausibly infer they were inventive. Some claims recited databases and processors, but based on the claims themselves and the specification, the Federal Circuit found these limitations required “no improved computer resources” and, accordingly, amounted to “a recitation of what is ‘well-understood, routine, [and] conventional.’” Lacking the required “inventive concept,” the Federal Circuit found the claimed advances, no matter how ground-breaking, to exist only in the realm of abstract ideas. Thus, finding no plausibly alleged innovation outside of the abstract realm, the Federal Circuit affirmed.