Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Vehicle Intelligence "Alice'd" at CAFC

The district court determined, and the parties do not
dispute, that the claims at issue fall within the broad
categories identified in 35 U.S.C. § 101 (i.e., “any new and
useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of
matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof”).
The question on appeal is whether these claims fall into
the judicially created exception of patent-ineligible abstract
To answer this question, we apply the two step
test introduced in Mayo Collaborative Services v.
Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S. Ct. 1289, 1296–98
(2012), and further explained in Alice Corp. Party v. CLS
Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347, 2355 (2014). First,
we “determine whether the claims at issue are directed to
a patent-ineligible concept.” Alice, 134 S. Ct. at 2355.
Second, we “examine the elements of the claim to determine
whether it contains an ‘inventive concept’ sufficient
to ‘transform’ the claimed abstract idea into a patenteligible
application.” Id. at 2357. This step requires
examining the elements of each claim both individually
and as an ordered combination. Id. at 2355. As the
Supreme Court has explained, “transformation into a
patent-eligible application requires more than simply
stating the abstract idea while adding the words ‘apply
it.’” Id. (quoting Mayo, 132 S. Ct. at 1294) (internal
quotation marks and alterations omitted).

The claims fail to be in a patentable category:

The claims at issue are drawn to a
patent-ineligible concept, specifically the abstract idea of
testing operators of any kind of moving equipment for any
kind of physical or mental impairment. None of the
claims at issue are limited to a particular kind of impairment,
explain how to perform either screening or testing
for any impairment, specify how to program the “expert
system” to perform any screening or testing, or explain
the nature of control to be exercised on the vehicle in
response to the test results.

Of the machine or transformation test:

Vehicle Intelligence’s argument harkens back to our pre-
Alice machine-or-transformation test in arguing that the
claimed methods are tied to particular machines and that
alone is sufficient to confer eligibility. But, post-
Mayo/Alice, this is no longer sufficient to render a claim
patent-eligible. DDR Holdings, LLC v., L.P.,
773 F.3d 1245, 1256 (Fed. Cir. 2014). Merely stating that
the methods at issue are performed on already existing
vehicle equipment, without more, does not save the disputed
claims from abstraction.

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