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Inventor Holdings, LLC v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.

Plaintiff’s Failure to Reassess Case Viability Post-Alice Supports Fee Award

Inventor Holdings, LLC v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 24781 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 8, 2017) (Wallach, CHEN, Stoll) (D. Del.: Sleet) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms award of attorney fees to BBB. The district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the case exceptional under § 285, particularly in view of Alice, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). The opinion analyzes IH’s claims (which related to techniques for purchasing goods at a local point-of-sale system from a remote seller), and determines that they fail both steps of the Alice test for patent eligibility. At step one, the opinion reasons, “the idea that a customer may pay for items ordered from a remote seller at a third-party’s local establishment is the type of fundamental business practice that, when implemented using generic computer technology, is not patentable under Alice.” Op. at 10. At step two, it finds that only conventional components are disclosed to implement this idea. The opinion also rejects IH’s argument that, because the district court had rejected other defendants’ § 101 challenges pre-Alice, it was reasonable for IH to believe its claims patent-eligible. First, the district court never endorsed the eligibility of IH’s claims, or gave reasons for its denial of other defendants’ motions. Second, “Alice was a significant change in the law as applied to the facts of this particular case.” Op. at 12. Post-Alice, IH had an obligation “to reassess its case in view of new controlling law.” Id. at 13. The district court also did not abuse its discretion in awarding appellate attorney fees, per Therasense, 745 F.3d 513 (Fed. Cir. 2014).

KEYWORDS: SUBJECT MATTER ELIGIBILITY (NO); ATTORNEY FEES (YES); SECTION 285