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Recognicorp, LLC v. Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Representative Claim

1. A method for creating a composite image, comprising:
displaying facial feature images on a first area of a first display via a first device associated with the first display, wherein the facial feature images are associated with facial feature element codes;
selecting a facial feature image from the first area of the first display via a user interface associated with the first device, wherein the first device incorporates the selected facial feature image into a composite image on a second area of the first display, wherein the composite image is associated with a composite facial image code having at least a facial feature element code; and
reproducing the composite image on a second display based on the composite facial image code.

Posture:

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. The district court found the patent claims ineligible subject matter and, based on that finding, granted Nintendo’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Abstract Idea: Yes

We find that claim 1 is directed to the abstract idea of encoding and decoding image data. It claims a method whereby a user displays images on a first display, assigns image codes to the images through an interface using a mathematical formula, and then reproduces the image based on the codes. See J.A. 35 (col. 1 ll. 23–40). This method reflects standard encoding and decoding, an abstract concept long utilized to transmit information. Cf. Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Capital One Fin. Corp., 850 F.3d 1332, 1340–41 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (organizing, displaying, and manipulating data encoded for human- and machine-readability is directed to an abstract concept). Morse code, ordering food at a fast food restaurant via a numbering system, and Paul Revere’s “one if by land, two if by sea” signaling system all exemplify encoding at one end and decoding at the other end. Even the ’303 patent describes “a common technique for synthesizing single images of faces involv[ing] horizontally dividing the image of a face into bands for different features,” such that “[p]aper strips containing exemplary features [can] then be combined to form a composite drawing of a face.” J.A. 27 (col. 1 ll. 37–43).

Something More: No

RecogniCorp argues that the claims of the ’303 patent contain an inventive concept sufficient to render them patent-eligible. Specifically, it contends that the combination of claim elements, i.e., the “particular encoding process using the specific algorithm disclosed” in the patent “transforms” the abstract idea into a patentable invention. RecogniCorp also points out the “facial feature element codes” and “pictorial entity symbols” disclosed in the ’303 patent claims. We find that these claim elements do not transform the nature of the ’303 patent claims into a patent-eligible application. McRO, 837 F.3d at 1312.