Sunday, January 17, 2021

iLife Technologies loses appeal at CAFC on 101 issue

The outcome:

iLife Technologies, Inc., appeals a Northern District of Texas order holding that claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 6,864,796 is directed to patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. We affirm

Of note:

While we agree with the district court that these claims are directed to the abstract idea of gathering, processing and transmitting data, the district court erred to the extent that it incorporated conventionality of claim elements at step 1. See, e.g., J.A. 26 (“Nothing in claim 1, understood in light of the specification, requires anything other than conventional sensors and processors performing ‘conventional activit[ies] previously known to the industry.’” (quoting Alice, 573 U.S. at 225 (quoting Mayo, 566 U.S. at 73))). The conventionality of the claim elements is only considered at step two if the claims are deemed at step 1 to be directed to a patent ineligible concept, such as an abstract idea. Alice, 573 U.S. at 217, 225. A claim is not directed to an abstract idea simply because it uses conventional technology. This claim is, however, directed to an abstract idea because it contains nothing more than the idea of gathering processing and transmitting
As the district court held, the elements of claim 1, considered individually and as an ordered combination, fail to recite an inventive concept. J.A. 28. Aside from the abstract idea, the claim recites only generic computer components, including a sensor, a processor, and a communication device. The specification’s description of these elements confirms they are generic. See, e.g., ’796 patent at 2:46–50 (communication device includes “cellular phones, . . . laptops, computers, . . . and other similar types of communications equipment”); 2:64–67 (sensor broadly means “a device that senses one or more absolute values, changes in value . . . of at least the sensed accelerative phenomena”); 4:34–38 (processor means “any device, system, or part thereof that controls at least one operation”). iLife argues that configuring an acceleration-based sensor and processor to detect and distinguish body movement as a function of both dynamic and static acceleration is an inventive concept. Appellant’s Br. at 53–54. But the specification clarifies sensors (e.g., accelerometers) “that measure both static and dynamic acceleration [were] known.” ’796 patent at 2:1–2. And unlike the claims in Thales, claim 1 does not recite any unconventional means or method for configuring or processing that information to distinguish body movement based on dynamic and static acceleration.
Therefore, we conclude that claim 1’s mere call for sensing and processing static and dynamic acceleration information using generic components does not transform the nature of claim 1 into patent eligible subject matter. See Elec. Power, 830 F.3d at 1355; see also BSG Tech LLC v. Buyseasons, Inc., 899 F.3d 1281, 1290–91 (Fed. Cir. 2018)
(“If a claim’s only ‘inventive concept’ is the application of an abstract idea using conventional and well-understood techniques, the claim has not been transformed into a patent-eligible application of an abstract idea.”). Accordingly, we hold claim 1 is directed to patent-ineligible subject matter.


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