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Exergen Corporation v. Thermomedics, Inc.

Representative Claim(s)

  1. A method of detecting human body temperature comprising: measuring temperature of a region of skin of the forehead; and processing the measured temperature to provide a body temperature approximation based on heat flow from an internal body temperature to ambient temperature.
  2. A method of detecting human body temperature comprising: measuring radiation as target skin surface of the forehead is viewed, and processing the measured radiation to provide a body temperature approximation based on heat flow from an internal body temperature to ambient temperature.

Posture:

Motion for summary judgment

Exception Categories: Law of Nature, Natural Phenomenon

“Claims 51 and 54 and their related dependent claims are directed to applying mathematical models of natural thermodynamic relationships, so the § 101 analysis proceeds to the second step.”

Significantly More: Yes

“These elements simply describe the application of a heat flow model, which is itself a natural phenomenon.”

“No matter how novel the concept of measuring body temperature from forehead skin temperature or how valuable the contribution to the medical community, this idea as set forth in the asserted claims is fundamentally a discovery of a natural relationship between skin temperature and body temperature.”

“The asserted claims lack an inventive concept outside of the laws of nature and are not eligible for patent protection.”

Further applying Bilski’s machine-or-transformation test, the court found no transformative element, “where the claims simply apply a mathematical formula to temperature or radiation measurements and do not change the measurements ‘into a different state or thing.’”