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In re Greenstein

Representative Claim

101. A method for providing recommendations, over the internet, regarding a purchase or lease of goods or services for at least one purchaser or lessor comprising the steps of:
receiving a request regarding the purchase or lease of goods or services;
storing the request in a computerized database; providing data which is independent of at least one person who will profit depending on the decision of the purchaser or lessor;
retrieving from the database information necessary to process the request;
processing the request using software to present a recommendation, the software in a computer which accesses the data which is independent of the at least one person who will profit depending on the decision of the purchaser or lessor;
insuring, using software in a computer, that the data used to arrive at the recommendation are originated by a person who is independent of at least one person who will profit depending on whether the at least one purchaser or lessor purchases or leases the goods or services; and
transmitting via a computer, over the internet, the recommendation by the at least one person who will profit depending on the decision concerning the purchase or lease of goods or services to at least one purchaser or lessor.

Posture:

Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. 10/492,205.

Abstract Idea: Yes

The PTAB found the claims were directed to the abstract idea of “providing recommendations for the purchase or lease of goods or services for a purchaser or lessor.” The Federal Circuit likewise found that the claims were abstract. Though the patent owner argued the claims solved a problem unique to the Internet, the Federal Circuit disagreed. The Federal Circuit stated: “the claims do not provide any concrete solution. Instead, they provide functional, results-oriented limitations like others we have held to be directed to abstract ideas.” Moreover, the claimed use of the Internet and generic computer functionality to receive, manipulate, and transmit data merely serves to “limit[ ] the field of use of the abstract idea to a particular existing technological environment,” but it “does not render the claims any less abstract.”

Something More: No

The Federal Circuit found the claims here provided no technological solution. Though the applicant argued the invention replaced conventional solutions providing recommendations, the Federal Circuit stated: “transmission of such a message (i.e., recommendation) over the Internet does not provide any improvement on how the Internet transmits messages.” The Federal Circuit also disagreed with the patent owner that the problem of trustworthy recommendations was technical, instead finding it to be a business problem. Therefore, the claims were directed to the abstract idea of providing recommendations for a purchaser or lessor, without offering a technical solution as to how one would “insure” that the data relied upon originates from a person who is independent of the transaction. The Federal Circuit concluded by reiterating precedents that data manipulation is not enough to save a claim from ineligibility and results-oriented claiming does not constitute an inventive concept.