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Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp.

Claim Addressing Use of Categorical Data Storage in Computer Memory Non-Abstract

Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp., (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2017) (O’Malley, Hughes (dissenting), STOLL) (D. Del.: Andrews) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir reverses determination of subject matter ineligibility. Visual Memory’s patent related to a computer memory system tailorable for use with multiple different processors without a performance penalty. The district court erred at Alice step one by reasoning that Visual Memory’s claims were directed to an abstract idea. Citing Enfish, 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016), and Thales, 850 F.3d 1343 (Fed. Cir. 2017), the opinion reasons that Visual Memory’s claims were addressed to an improved memory system, not just the abstract idea of “categorical data storage” (i.e., storing data in different caches based on the data type). The opinion notes that the claims recited a number of limitations restricting the claims to a memory system, and not “all types and all forms of categorical data storage.“ Op. at 9. Thus they addressed a technological improvement as in Enfish and Thales, and cases like Content Extraction, 776 F.3d 1343 (Fed. Cir. 2014), and TLI Communications, 823 F.3d 607 (Fed. Cir. 2016), are distinguishable.

Dissent: In Judge Hughes’ view, the claims’ “fundamental concept” was expressed generally, and should be interpreted as such in the Alice analysis. He would have affirmed the subject matter ineligibility finding.

KEYWORDS: SUBJECT MATTER ELIGIBILITY (YES)