The petitioners applied for a Covered Business Method (CBM) review of three of the patentee’s electronic restaurant ordering system patents. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) conducted CBM reviews and found each patent unpatentable in part under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Both parties appealed.
The PTAB determined that the patents were subject to CBM reviews because they did not fall within the “technological invention” exception. The claims of the patents did not involve novel or unobvious technology, and instead solved a business rather than technical problem. The Federal Circuit affirmed, noting that the claims did not solve “technical problems using technical solutions.”
The PTAB found that certain patent claims were unpatentable under § 101 because they were directed to the abstract idea of “generating a second menu from a first menu and sending the second menu to another location.” The Federal Circuit affirmed that the claims were directed to an abstract idea because they did not recite how to carry out a particular way of programming or design, and instead just claimed the result. Other claims were found to be patent-ineligible by the PTAB because those claims described typical hardware elements or merely added conventional computer components to well-known business practices. The Federal Circuit affirmed, echoing the Supreme Court’s Alice decision by stating it is insufficient “to point to conventional applications and say ‘do it on a computer.’”
The PTAB found two claims relating to linking orders to specific customers to be patentable, but the Federal Circuit overturned that decision, holding those claims unpatentable under § 101 because they did not specify a method for implementing the order linking. The Federal Circuit noted the order linking claim is a classic example of “manual tasks that cannot be rendered patent eligible by performing them with a computer.” The PTAB’s acceptance of allowable claims directed to the use of handwriting and voice capture technologies was found to be unpatentable by the Federal Circuit because those claims did not include details as to how the technology would be implemented.