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Neochloris, Inc. v. Emerson Process Management Power & Water Solutions, Inc.

Representative Claim

  1. A process for real-time monitoring of a water treatment facility comprising the steps of:
    a) collecting operational data from said facility;
    b) providing a monitoring computer at a remote location from the facility;
    c) transferring said data over internet communication lines to the computer;
    d) providing software with the monitoring computer to operably analyze the data and to detect ongoing and predict future waste water treatment process failure events; and
    e) sending an alarm signal from the monitoring computer to the facility to provide warning of the process failure events.
  1. A process for real-time monitoring of a water treatment facility comprising the steps of:
    a) collecting operational data from said facility;
    b) providing a monitoring computer at a remote location from the facility;
    c) transferring said data over communication lines to the computer;
    d) providing software with the computer to operably analyze the data and predict waste water treatment process upsets and process failure events; and
    e) sending a hierarchal alarm signal from the computer to the facility to provide warning of the process upsets and failure events; said alarm signal having a first hierarchy alarm that is sent to a first party in response to an upset or event having a lower degree of severity and a second hierarchy alarm that is sent to a second party in response to an upset or event having a higher severity.

 

Posture:

Motion for Summary Judgment of patent ineligibility under 35 USC § 101.

Abstract Idea: Yes

The Court agrees that, at bottom, the claims cover the general process of observing, analyzing, monitoring, and alerting that can be done entirely by the human mind and by using pen and paper … Similarly, courts have also invalidated patents that claimed nothing more than merely monitoring a process. See, e.g., IPLearn-Focus, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 2015 WL 4192092, at *1 (N.D. Cal. July 10, 2015) (using a computer and sensors to monitor a student’s concentration levels and analyze changes was an abstract idea).

Something More: No

Neochloris argues that three inventive features transform the monitoring concept into a patent-eligible application, namely, the system’s (1) use of computers and software; (2) ability to predict future failure events; and (3) ability to reduce human error. Pl.’s Resp. at 9-10. None of these limitations make the abstract idea patent-eligible. … none of the ’336 patent’s limitations—the use of computers and software, the predictive abilities, or the ability to reduce error—constitute a sufficiently inventive concept to warrant patent protection.