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Shortridge v. Foundation Construction Payroll Service

Representative Claim

1. A method of public works construction payroll processing for a contractor comprising:

processing payroll related data with a computer implemented core payroll calculation and processing engine, the processing including:

sharing between conjoined computer processor components, input data stored in a relational database, said input data required for core payroll processing and calculation, said input data also required for production of at least one certifiable public works construction payroll record report (CPR), the CPR defined in accordance with jurisdiction-specific rules drawn from a plurality of stored rules;

distinguishing between public works projects and private sector projects based on the input data and identifying the project as a public works project based on the input data;

verifying input data is compliant with requirements of the core payroll processing and calculation engine and the requirements of the CPR;

processing the verified input data to produce calculated core payroll data, the calculated core payroll data used for core payroll processing, production of core payroll processing reports, and production of the CPR;

sharing, between conjoined computer processor components, the calculated core payroll data;

sharing, between the conjoined computer processor components, non-calculated payroll related data as required for production of the CPR;

storing the non-calculated payroll related data and the calculated core payroll data redundantly or individually;

producing the CPR based on the calculated core payroll data and the non-calculated payroll related data only if the input data identifies the project as a public works project, the CPR produced in conjunction with and simultaneously with core payroll processing; and

producing public works contractor management supporting reports using the input data only if the input data identifies the project as a public works project, the public works contractor management supporting reports indicating whether the contractor is in compliance with the jurisdiction-specific rules of a jurisdiction to which the public works construction contractor is subject.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (Case No.: 3:14-cv-04850)

Abstract Idea: Yes

The court did not perform a substantive analysis at step one of the Alice/Mayo framework.  Instead, the court relied upon an admission by the appellant/patent owner that “the ’933 patent is directed to ‘one or more’ abstract idea(s).”

Something More: No

At step two of the Alice/Mayo framework, the court was unable to identify an “inventive concept” adding “something more” to the “underlying abstract idea of ‘cataloging labor data.’”  Despite the fact that “a human could not easily” practice the claimed subject matter, the court noted that “relying on a computer to perform routine tasks more quickly or more accurately is insufficient to render a claim patent eligible.”  The court also dismissed arguments by the appellant/patent owner analogizing the claims on appeal to those of DDR Holdings, LLC v., L.P., 773 F.3d 1245 (Fed. Cir. 2014), stating:

“Specifically, Mr. Shortridge notes that the ’933 patent claims recite the use of a ‘relational database,’ e.g., ’933 patent col. 18 l. 33, and, similarly, that the claims at issue in DDR recite a ‘data store,’ 773 F.3d at 1250. But as the similarities between the patents end there, so too does Mr. Shortridge’s argument. Our decision in DDR did not hinge on the patent’s recitation of a data store, but rather on the notion that the ‘claimed solution [was] necessarily rooted in computer technology in order to overcome a problem specifically arising in the realm of computer networks.’ DDR, 773 F.3d at 1257. Here, Mr. Shortridge does not argue, and the ’933 patent written description does not support, that the claimed ‘relational database’ is used to solve a uniquely technical problem.”