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RecogniCorp, LLC v. Nintendo Co.

Invocation of Particular Algorithm in Face Compositing Claims Insufficient to Confer Patentability

RecogniCorp, LLC v. Nintendo Co., (Fed. Cir. Apr. 28, 2017) (Lourie, REYNA, Stoll) (W.D. Wa.: Jones) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms judgment on the pleadings of patent ineligibility. RecogniCorp’s patent related to techniques for building a composite facial image from constituent parts. The patent failed both steps of the Alice inquiry. At step one, RecogniCorp’s patent addressed “the abstract idea of encoding and decoding image data.” Slip op. at 7. Per Diamond, 450 U.S. 175 (1981), it was not the mere use of a mathematical formula that rendered the representative claim abstract, but the absence of any patentable subject matter outside of the mathematical formula. Digitech, 758 F.3d 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2014), was on point because RecogniCorp’s claim, like the claim in Digitech, “started with data, added an algorithm, and ended with a new form of data,” and so was abstract. At step two, the opinion rejects RecogniCorp’s argument that the “particular encoding process using the specific algorithm disclosed” was sufficient to confer patentability. DDR Holdings, 773 F.3d 1245 (Fed. Cir. 2014), was distinguishable because there was nothing in RecogniCorp’s claim to provide the required inventive concept. “The addition of a mathematical equation that simply changes the data into other forms of data cannot save [the claim].” Slip op. at 10. The opinion also rejects RecogniCorp’s attempt to argue under BASCOM Global Internet Services, 827 F.3d 1341 (Fed. Cir. 2016), that the claims had some “particularized application” of the image encoding/decoding techniques sufficient to confer patentability. “[The claim] claims the use of a computer, but it does exactly what we have warned it may not: tell a user to take an abstract idea and apply it with a computer.” Slip op. at 10.

KEYWORDS: PATENT-ELIGIBLE SUBJECT MATTER (NO)