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Thales Visionix, Inc. v. The United States

Representative Claim

  1. A system for tracking the motion of an object relative to a moving reference frame, comprising:

a first inertial sensor mounted on the tracked object;

a second inertial sensor mounted on the moving reference frame; and

an element adapted to receive signals from said first and second inertial sensors and configured to determine an orientation of the object relative to the moving reference frame based on the signals received from the first and second inertial sensors.

Posture:

Appeal from the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Abstract Idea: No

These claims are not merely directed to the abstract idea of using “mathematical equations for determining the relative position of a moving object to a moving reference frame,” as the Claims Court found. Thales, 122 Fed. Cl. at 252. Rather, the claims are directed to systems and methods that use inertial sensors in a non-conventional manner to reduce errors in measuring the relative position and orientation of a moving object on a moving reference frame. At step one, “it is not enough to merely identify a patent-ineligible concept underlying the claim; we must determine whether that patent-ineligible concept is what the claim is ‘directed to.’” Rapid Litig., 827 F.3d at 1050. Just as a natural law can be utilized to create an improved laboratory technique for preserving liver cells, id. at 1048, so can the application of physics create an improved technique for measuring movement of an object on a moving platform. Just as claims directed to a new and useful technique for defining a database that runs on general-purpose computer equipment are patent eligible, Enfish, 822 F.3d at 1337–38, so too are claims directed to a new and useful technique for using sensors to more efficiently track an object on a moving platform. That a mathematical equation is required to complete the claimed method and system does not doom the claims to abstraction.

For the purpose of evaluating patent eligibility, the ’159 patent claims are nearly indistinguishable from the claims at issue in Diehr. . . .

We hold that the ’159 patent claims at issue in this appeal are not directed to an abstract idea. . . .