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Apple, Inc. et al. v. Ameranth, Inc.

Representative Claim

  1. An information management and synchronous communications system for generating and transmitting menus comprising:

a central processing unit,

a data storage device connected to said central processing unit,

an operating system including a graphical user interface,

a first menu consisting of menu categories, said menu categories consisting of menu items, said first menu stored on said data storage device and displayable in a window of said graphical user interface in a hierarchical tree format,

a modifier menu stored on said data storage device and displayable in a window of said graphical user interface,

a sub-modifier menu stored on said data storage device and displayable in a window of said graphical user interface, and

application software for generating a second menu from said first menu and transmitting said second menu to a wireless handheld computing device or Web page,

wherein the application software facilitates the generation of the second menu by allowing selection of categories and items from the first menu, addition of menu categories to the second menu, addition of menu items to the second menu and assignment of parameters to items in the second menu using the graphical user interface of said operating system, said parameters being selected from the modifier and sub-modifier menus.

Posture:

Appeals from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in Nos. CBM2014-00013, CBM2014-00015, CBM20014-00016.

Abstract Idea: Yes

The Federal Circuit confirmed the PTAB’s Step One determination that “the claims in all three patents are directed to the abstract idea of ‘generating a second menu from a first menu and sending the second menu to another location.’” In explanation, the opinion states:

“We affirm the Board’s conclusion that the claims in these patents are directed to an abstract idea. The patents claim systems including menus with particular features. They do not claim a particular way of programming or designing the software to create menus that have these features, but instead merely claim the resulting systems. Id. Essentially, the claims are directed to certain functionality—here, the ability to generate menus with certain features. Alternatively, the claims are not directed to a specific improvement in the way computers operate. Cf. Enfish, 822 F.3d at 1335–36.”

Something More: No

The Federal Circuit also confirmed the PTAB’s Step Two determination that “even when the claim elements are considered as a combination, they add nothing that is not already present when the elements are considered separately.” The Court rejected the patent owner’s arguments that certain aspects of the claims directed to (1) a manually modified second menu, (2) data synchronization, (3) menu printing, and (4) table-based/drive-through ordering are sufficient to confer patent eligibility, because these features are “insignificant post-solution activities that do not support the invention having an inventive concept.” In summary, the opinion states:

“The preferred embodiment of the claimed invention described in the specifications is a restaurant preparing a device that can be used by a server taking orders from a customer. The claimed invention replaces a server’s notepad or mental list with an electronic device programmed to allow menu items to be selected as a customer places an order. As noted above, the specifications describe the hardware elements of the invention as ‘typical’ and the software programming needed as ‘commonly known.’ The invention merely claims the addition of conventional computer components to well-known business practices.”