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BSG Tech LLC v. BuySeasons, Inc.

Claims for New Uses of Conventional Database Techniques Held Patent-Ineligible

BSG Tech LLC v. BuySeasons, Inc., __ F.3d __, 2018 WL 3862646 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2018) (Reyna, Wallach, HUGHES) (E.D. Tex.: Schroeder) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms summary judgment of patent invalidity under § 101. BSG Tech’s claims related to various techniques for indexing data based on an extensible set of parameters, but with some guidance, based on historical data, to keep consistency among parameters. At Alice step one, district court correctly determined that the claims were directed to the abstract idea of considering historical usage information while inputting data. The opinion rejects BSG Tech’s arguments for non-abstractness. That BSG Tech’s claims recited a database structure that was “slightly more detailed than a generic database” does not make them non-abstract, per TLI Communications, 823 F.3d 607 (Fed. Cir. 2016). That the claims require “summary comparison usage information,” rather than any historical information, did not sufficiently narrow the claims. And the claims were not an improvement to database functionality, as in Enfish, 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016), but to performance of an abstract idea using well-known database structures. At Alice step two, the claims lacked an inventive concept sufficient to preserve patentability. The reach of Berkheimer, 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018), in this case is limited, because the only alleged unconventional feature in BSG Tech’s claims was the idea of guiding users by using historical information—“[b]ut this simply restates what we have already determined is an abstract idea.” Op. at 17. Because BSG did not argue that any of the other limitations were unconventional, there was no error in finding that the claims lacked an inventive concept.

KEYWORDS: PATENT-ELIGIBLE SUBJECT MATTER (NO); SUMMARY JUDGMENT