Judge Donato in the Northern District of California granted defendants’ motion to dismiss two of the nine asserted patents for invalidity under Section 101. The defendants filed the motion before the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank Int’l, though the court accepted supplemental briefing on the decision. The two patents – U.S. Patent Nos. 7,647,372 and 7,975,007 – purport to cover “systems and method for carrying on marketing dialogues.”

Judge Donato characterized the claims as “a very simple abstract marketing idea” in which (1) a group of people is contacted, (2) a subset of the group is selected, and (3) an action is performed with the subset, such as sending another communication. This idea is nothing more than one of the most basic marketing principles: “identify potential or current customers and engage with them to improve their customer experience.” So the court found that the claims cover a patentineligible concept.

Like many of the other patents that have fallen in the wake of Alice Corp., the two patents atissue merely wrapped an abstract idea – in this instance a marketing idea – in generic computer and Internet technology. Indeed, plaintiff’s counsel admitted during oral argument that the claimed marketing concept could be implemented on a generic computer system. Thus, the computerrelated limitations did not transform the abstract marketing idea into a patenteligible application. Thus, the court held that the patents are patent ineligible under Section 101.

Open Text S.A. v. Alfresco Software Ltd, No. 13-cv-4843, Dkt. No. 204 (N.D. Cal. Sep. 19, 2014)