by Dennis Crouch
Trinity Data Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc., No. 2022-1308, — F.4th — (Fed. Cir. July 14, 2023).
Trinity Data Media sued Covalent for infringing two patents overlaying a strategy of connecting customers primarily based on polling query solutions – US Patent Nos. 9,087,321 and 10,936,685. The patents describe a system the place customers reply polling questions and the system makes use of these solutions to discover a “probability of match” between customers. Connections are recommended for high-likelihood matches. The system makes use of standard laptop elements like processors, reminiscence, servers, and so forth. The ‘685 patent provides limitations about performing operations on a handheld system, displaying outcomes through swiping, and utilizing a cellular app.
The district court docket granted Covalent’s movement to dismiss, discovering the asserted claims ineligible underneath 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed after analyzing the claims underneath the two-step Alice/Mayo framework:
Step 1 – Decide if the claims are directed to a patent ineligible idea like an summary thought.
- The court docket discovered the claims are directed to the summary thought of “matching primarily based on questioning”, which entails gathering consumer info, analyzing it, and displaying outcomes.
- It is a psychological course of that could possibly be carried out by people with out a pc. Utilizing generic technical elements doesn’t change the character of the claims.
Step 2 – Decide if the claims recite an ingenious idea, i.e. one thing considerably greater than the summary thought.
- The court docket discovered the claims don’t comprise an ingenious idea. The extra components like processors, servers, cellular units, and so forth. are generic and traditional.
- They’re utilized in a standard solution to apply the summary thought, which is inadequate to qualify as considerably extra.
- The alleged advance of real-time matching primarily based on polling doesn’t make the claims patent eligible. That merely displays use of generic computer systems to hurry up the method.
At oral arguments, the patentee’s legal professional (Gregory Hillyer) argued that a greater framing of the invention was the requiring of a “distinctive identifier to the reply in order that that reply can discover its place in a brand new and novel array of match servers, moderately than a single match server that must later be searched.” Sadly for the patentee these options weren’t truly required by the claims. Choose Cunningham pressed the patentee to establish particular non-conclusory allegations within the criticism about inventiveness. The patentee had problem citing something substantial.
The patentee (Trinity) offered various arguments, however the court docket rejected each in flip:
- Trinity argued the claims recite particular enhancements to laptop capabilities, like utilizing “a number of match servers” and a “match aggregator.” Nonetheless, the court docket discovered these had been merely generic laptop elements utilized in a standard solution to implement the summary thought.
- Trinity argued the claims recite a technical answer to an issue, like permitting “fast real-time matching.” However the court docket discovered this merely makes use of computer systems to make the method quicker, which isn’t sufficient for patent eligibility.
- Trinity argued people can not carry out psychological matching as quick because the claimed system. Nonetheless, the court docket famous the claims don’t require the alleged enhancements in pace or functionality. Slightly, the main focus of the claims themselves was on the summary thought.
- Trinity argued the claims recite unconventional options like utilizing a handheld system and swiping to overview matches. Nonetheless, the court docket discovered these limitations simply apply the summary thought utilizing generic know-how, and are usually not an ingenious idea. These had been generic elements by the point of the invention.
- Trinity relied on allegations that some limitations weren’t within the prior artwork. Nonetheless, the court docket discounted these conclusory statements, noting that an summary thought stays summary even when some laptop limitations are novel.
In the long run, the appellate panel affirmed the decrease court docket’s obviousness discovering.
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Patent eligibility can typically contain underlying factual questions, however that this was not a kind of instances. The quoted Berkheimer to clarify that ‘not each § 101 dedication comprises real disputes over the underlying info materials to the § 101 inquiry.’ Right here, the court docket additionally concluded that declare building and discovery weren’t mandatory precursors for the 101 evaluation for the reason that patentee did not establish any proposed declare constructions or particular info that will have an effect on the 101 evaluation.