Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CAFC affirms 101 patent ineligibility in SECURED MAIL SOLUTIONS LLC

A decision of CD Cal was affirmed by the CAFC in Secured Mail Solutions, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20105.

Alice is cited:

In Alice, the Supreme Court applied a two-step framework for analyzing whether claims are patent-eligible under section 101. First, we determine whether the claims at issue are "directed to" a judicial exception, such as an abstract idea. 134 S. Ct. at 2355. If not, the inquiry ends. Thales Visionix Inc. v. United States, 850 F.3d 1343, 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2017); Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327, 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2016). If the claims are determined to be directed to an abstract idea we next consider under step two whether the claims contain an "inventive concept" sufficient to "transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application." Alice, 134 S. Ct. at 2355.

Enfish is discussed:

On appeal, Secured Mail argues that its claims are patent-eligible under Enfish, an opinion issued after the district court's decision in this case. In particular, the district court quoted the since-reversed district court decision in Enfish to hold that courts "should recite a claim's purpose at a reasonably high level of generality." Secure Mail, 169 F. Supp. 3d at 1048 (quoting Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 56 F. Supp. 3d 1167, 1173 (C.D. Cal. 2014), rev'd, 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016)). The Federal Circuit in Enfish held that the district court had described the claims at too high a level of abstraction, and "describing the claims at such a high level of abstraction and untethered from the language of the claims all but ensures that the exceptions to ยง 101 swallow the rule." 822 F.3d at 1337. Here, despite the district court's statement that "a reasonably high level of generality" should be used, the district court's analysis correctly found that Secured Mail's claims are directed [*9] to an abstract idea.

The court in Enfish held the claims relating to a computer database implementation to be patent-eligible under Alice step one because the claims focused on an improvement to computer functionality itself, not on economic or other tasks for which a computer is used in its ordinary capacity. Id. at 1332-33. The claims in Enfish related to organization of data in a table in computer memory and a system for indexing that data. Id. at 1332-332. In contrast, the claims of Secured Mail's patents are not directed to an improvement in computer functionality. For example, the claims are not directed to a new barcode format, an improved method of generating or scanning barcodes, or similar improvements in computer functionality.


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