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Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL, Inc.

Information Display Claims Held Patent-Ineligible

Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL, Inc., __ F.3d __, 2018 WL 3485608 (Fed. Cir. July 20, 2018) (Taranto, Plager (CIP/DIP), CHEN) (W.D. Wash.: Rothstein) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms Rule 12 judgment on the pleadings of invalidity for claims directed to patent-ineligible subject matter. Citing Berkheimer, 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018), the opinion notes that there are no disputed fact issues. Applying the Alice/Mayo test, the opinion reasons that Interval’s claims, which were directed to “the presentation of two sets of information, in a non-overlapping way, on a display screen,” claimed an abstract idea. It rejects Interval’s argument that it was claiming an “attention manager” that was an improvement to computer systems. “Standing alone, the act of providing someone an additional set of information without disrupting the ongoing provision of an initial set of information is an abstract idea.” Op. at. 15. The opinion cites Electric Power Group, 830 F.3d 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2016), as holding that collecting, analyzing, and displaying information, without more, is an abstract idea. The claims’ recitation of “instructions” for the various steps of the information processing and display did not make them non-abstract, as they did not impose meaningful limitations on the solution being claimed. At Alice/Mayo step 2, Interval’s claims lacked any inventive concept sufficient to confer patent eligibility. The instructions are too high level and conventional, and the claims are so broad as to “encompass the basic concept of displaying two sets of information.” Op. at 20. The opinion rejects Interval’s attempt to analogize its claims to DDR Holdings, 773 F.3d 1245 (Fed. Cir. 2014), or Affinity Labs of Texas, 838 F.3d 1253 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

Part-concurrence: Judge Plager concurs in the “carefully reasoned opinion by my colleagues,” but sharply criticizes the current state of subject-matter eligibility law as “giv[ing] little confidence that the outcome is necessarily correct” because the law “renders it near impossible to know with any certainty whether the invention is or is not patent eligible.” CIP at 1–2.

KEYWORDS: SUBJECT-MATTER ELIGIBILITY (NO); ABSTRACT IDEA