Federal Circuit says Claims for Summarizing Information are Not Abstract

Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. v. LG Elecs., Inc. Federal Circuit says Claims for Summarizing Information are Not Abstract Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. v. LG Elecs., Inc., Nos. 2016-2684, 2017-1922, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1931 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 25, 2018) (Before Moore, O’Malley, and Wallach, J.) (Opinion for the court, Moore, J.) (Concurring in part and dissenting in part, Wallach, J.).

The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of LG‘s motion for summary judgment that various claims of Core’s patents were directed to patent ineligible subject matter under Section 101. The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of LG’s motions for judgment as a matter of law that the claims were anticipated and not infringed.

Core’s patents related to display interfaces for electronic devices with small screens, which allow a user to access data more quickly. LG characterized the claimed invention as “displaying an application summary window while the application is in an unlaunched state.” LG moved for summary judgment that the claims are “abstract” and invalid under Section 101. The district court denied the motion. The claims are not abstract, because the “application,” “summary window,” and “unlaunched state” are applied to specific devices, like cell phones. At trial, the jury found all of Core’s claims infringed and not invalid. LG moved for judgment as a matter of law on both issues, which the district court denied.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment based on invalidity. Under Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347, 2354 (2014), if the claims at issue are directed to a “patent ineligible concept,” then the court will “examine the elements of the claim to determine whether it contains an ‘inventive concept’ sufficient to ‘transform’ the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application.” If the claims are directed to a patent-eligible concept, they satisfy Section 101. Here, the Court looked to whether the claims were directed to a specific improvement in the capabilities of computing devices, or, instead, “a process that qualifie[d] as an ‘abstract idea’ for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.” Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327, 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

Core’s claims were directed to an improved user interface for computing devices, which was not an abstract idea. While the generic idea of summarizing information was known, the claims were directed to a “particular manner of summarizing and presenting information in electronic devices” that improved the efficiency of the electronic device over the prior art. Therefore, the claims were not directed to an abstract idea.

The prior art taught a display for mobile phones that “provide[d] an arrangement for dynamically varying how space on a small display is allocated ….” LG moved for judgment by arguing that the reference taught every element of the claims at issue and that Core failed to rebut LG’s prima facie case of anticipation. The Federal Circuit disagreed, noting that Core’s cross-examination of LG’s expert give the jury reasons why the expert might be incorrect. The jury was not required to give full credit to LG’s expert, nor did the evidence favor LG so strongly that judgment as a matter of law was warranted.

Regarding infringement, the district court construed “unlaunched state” to mean “not displayed” by the interface. Under this claim construction, the jury found that LG infringed the patent. On appeal, LG argued that the correct construction should be “not running,” but the Federal Circuit affirmed the claim construction and found substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict.

Judge Wallach’s Separate Opinion

Judge Wallach filed an opinion concurring-in-part and dissenting-in-part. He agreed with the majority that the district court did not err in determining the claims at issue were patent eligible. However, he agreed with LG that “unlaunched state” means “not running” instead of “not displayed.” He would have remanded for a review of infringement based on this claim construction.

Conclusion

The concept of summarizing information can be patent eligible (not abstract) when specifically applied to improving the efficiency of the electronic device, as in a “particular manner of summarizing and presenting information in electronic devices.”

The Author

Joseph Robinson

Joseph Robinson has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of intellectual property law. He focuses his practice in the pharmaceutical, life sciences, biotechnology, and medical device fields. His practice encompasses litigation, including Hatch-Waxman litigation; licensing; counseling; due diligence; and patent and trademark prosecution. He has served as litigation counsel in a variety of patent and trademark disputes in many different jurisdictions, and has also served as appellate counsel before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Joe also focuses on complex inter partes matters before the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, inventorship disputes, reexaminations and reissues. His experience includes numerous interferences, a particular advantage in new U.S. Patent and Trademark Office post-grant proceedings. He also counsels on patent–related U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues, including citizen petitions, Orange Book listing, and trademark issues. For more information and to contact Joe please visit his profile page at the Troutman Sanders website.

Joseph Robinson

Robert Schaffer is an intellectual property partner at Troutman Sanders. Bob applies more than 30 years of experience to IP counseling and litigation. His work includes patent procurement, strategic planning and transactional advice, due diligence investigations, district court patent cases, and Federal Circuit appeals. He regularly handles complex and high-profile domestic and international patent portfolios, intellectual property agreements and licensing, IP evaluations for collaborations, mergers, and acquisitions. In disputed court cases Bob’s work includes representing and counseling client in ANDA litigations, complex patent infringement cases and appeals, and multidistrict and international cases. In disputed Patent Office matters his work includes representing and counseling clients in interferences, reexaminations, reissues, post-grant proceedings, and in European Oppositions. For more information and to contact Bob please visit his profile page at the Troutman Sanders website.

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Discuss this

There are currently 7 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Anon February 2, 2018 7:16 pm

    So….

    We have computing devices here used as tools.

    Anyone else notice a bit of inconsistency?

  2. Paul Johnson February 3, 2018 5:13 pm

    Anon
    How did you arrive at “computing devices here used as tools” from a “particular manner of summarizing and presenting information in electronic devices”?

  3. Anon February 3, 2018 6:43 pm

    “in electronic devices”

  4. Gene Quinn February 3, 2018 6:52 pm

    Anon-

    Inconsistency? Are you kidding? Nothing to see here… move along!

    As I’ve been saying ever since Alice, the undoing of this “test” is going to be the same as with FWA. It means whatever the person applying it says. Absolutely no objectivity.

    For those unfamiliar with FWA, please see:

    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2014/12/02/freeman-walter-abele-a-tortured-history-of-software-eligibility/id=52271/

  5. Curious February 4, 2018 11:13 pm

    Gene — inconsistency is the hallmark of the Federal Circuit.

    Anon — I know you like to advocate for removing jurisdiction over patent issues from SCOTUS and giving that to a “new” patent court. However, I am reminded of the old computer terminology “garbage in = garbage out.” The quality of the legal review of patent law is necessarily going to depend upon the quality (and innate biases) of the judges that do the review. Until we can prevent the likes of judges like Dyk from sitting on the bench, it really doesn’t matter who is the ultimate arbiter.

    In my eyes, the better solution is for Congress to write clearer laws that don’t allow for the shenanigans played by the Courts in reinterpreting the law.

  6. Anon February 5, 2018 8:47 am

    Curious,

    I do not disagree with your perspective (and note, somewhat sadly, that the AIA is the very opposite of your view).

  7. Mark Nowotarski February 6, 2018 9:07 am

    What I’ve noticed in this and other decisions is how important the specification is in determining the statutory nature of the claims. This is important point for anyone drafting an application in the computer arts.

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