In BUYSAFE, INC. v. GOOGLE, INC., Appeal No. 2013-1575, the Federal Circuit affirmed a judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for lack of patent-eligible subject matter.
buySAFE sued Google for patent infringement. The asserted claims were methods and machine-readable media for guaranteeing a party’s performance of an online transaction. Google moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the asserted claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The district court granted Google’s motion and concluded that the patent describes a well-known and widely understood concept and merely applied that concept using conventional computer technology and the Internet.
The Federal Circuit affirmed under the Supreme Court’s two-step framework established in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012), and Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). First, the Federal Circuit determined whether the claims were directed to an abstract idea. The Federal Circuit stated that the claims are “squarely” about the abstract idea of creating a contractual relationship, specifically a “transaction performance guarantee.” The Federal Circuit next ascertained whether the claims recited additional elements sufficient to transform the nature of the claim into something “significantly more” than the abstract idea itself. The Federal Circuit concluded they did not because the recited computer functionality is generic and “not even arguably inventive.” Further, the Federal Circuit stated that it cannot be enough that the transactions being guaranteed are themselves online transactions. The Federal Circuit noted that such phraseology is insufficient to save the claims because it only limits the use of the abstract guarantee idea to a particular technological environment