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eDekka LLC v. 3Balls.com, Inc., et al.

Representative Claim

  1. Method for storing information provided by a user which comprises:

in response to user input, receiving and storing information;

in response to user input, designating the information as data while the information is being received;

in response to user input, designating at least a portion of the information as a label while the information is being received;

in response to user input, traversing a data structure and providing an indication of a location in the data structure;

in response to user input, storing the label at the location in the data structure; and

associating the label with the data.

 

  1. Method for storing information provided by a user which comprises:

in response to user input, receiving and storing information;

in response to user input, designating the information as data while the information is being received;

in response to user input, conveying the stored information to the user and designating at least a portion of the stored information as a label while the stored information is being conveyed;

in response to user input, traversing a data structure and providing an indication of a location in the data structure;

in response to user input, storing the label at the location in the data structure; and

associating the label with the data.

Posture:

Motion for Summary Judgment.

Abstract Idea: Yes

The Court found that representative claims 1 and 3 the ’674 Patent are directed to the abstract idea of storing and labeling information, stating:

“[T]he claimed idea represents routine tasks that could be performed by a human. While the generic requirement of a ‘data structure’ is included, Claim 1 essentially describes the common process of receiving, labeling, and storing information, while Claim 3 encompasses retrieving such information.”

Notably, Patent Owner (eDekka) argued that the claims are not an abstract idea because they “improve the functioning of technology” – i.e., the ‘674 Patent improves a computer’s function because it creates a structure that reduces the time to retrieve information and the amount of information that must be retrieved. The Court dismissed this argument without substantive comment. Technological improvement has been considered a relatively strong argument against an abstract idea designation.[1] The Court’s seemingly blatant disregard of it in this summary judgment opinion is noteworthy.

[1] “Indeed, this court notes that inventions with specific applications or improvements to technologies in the marketplace are not likely to be so abstract that they override the statutory language and framework of the Patent Act.” Research Corporation Technologies Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 627 F.3d 859 (Fed. Cir. 2010).

Something More: No

Are the Claims Tied to Special-Purpose Computer?

The court determined that the claims were not tied to a special-purpose computer, and Patent Owner admitted as much.

Here, generic terms are used throughout the claims, such as “data structure,” “data,” “input,” and “label.” However, the ’674 Patent does not claim the process of generating user-defined labels to locate and identify stored information in a manner that limits its use to a particular structure or machine. “To salvage an otherwise patent-ineligible process, a computer must be integral to the claimed invention, facilitating the process in a way that a person making calculations or computations could not.” Bancorp Servs., L.L.C. v. Sun Life. Assurance. Co. of Canada (U.S.), 687 F.3d 1273, 1278 (Fed. Cir. 2012). The inclusion of terms that may vaguely allude to computer-based activity does not suffice to meaningfully restrict the ’674 Patent from preempting the abstract idea itself.

Do the Claims Preempt the Abstract Concept?

The Court did not consider the claims to provide any meaningful limitation that would prevent Patent Owner from obtaining a monopoly over the claimed abstract idea. Further, citing Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc., 788 F.3d 1271, 1379 (Fed. Cir. 2015), the Court also noted that “[w]hile preemption may signal patent ineligible subject matter, the absence of complete preemption does not demonstrate patent eligibility.”