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Hemopet v. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc.

Representative Claim(s)

The ‘343 Patent

1. A method of analyzing nutrition for a canine or feline animal, comprising:

accessing at least one database that comprises first data relating genetic descriptor genomic data to a physiological condition, wherein the genetic descriptor genomic data is obtained from either a bodily fluid or tissue sample;

accessing second data comprising the effect of nutrition on the expression of the genetic descriptor genomic data;

analyzing, by use of a computer, the first and second data, relating the effect of nutrition on the expression of the genetic descriptor genomic data for the animal to the physiological condition, wherein the physiological condition comprises gastrointestinal function or immunological function of the animal; and

formulating a nutritional diet based on the analyzed data.

The ‘354 Patent

1. A system for determining a nutritional diet for a canine or feline companion animal comprising:

a computer;

at least one electronic database coupled to the computing system;

at least one software routine executing on the computing system which is programmed to:

(a) receive first data relating genomic map data to a physiological condition of the animal, and second data comprising the effect of nutrition on the expression of at least one gene in the genomic map;

(b) determine a relationship between said first and second data; and

(c) based on the relationship, determine a nutritional diet for the canine or feline companion animal; and formulate and prepare a nutritional diet product based on the relationship.

The ‘099 Patent

1. A non-transitory computer-readable medium for determining a nutritional diet for a canine or feline companion animal stored thereon instructions for a computer to execute the medium comprising:

at least one electronic database; and

at least one software routine comprising instruction for:

(a) receiving first data relating genomic map data to a physiological condition of a canine or feline companion animal, and second data comprising the effect of nutrition on the expression of genes in the genomic map data;

(b) determining a relationship between said first and second data; and preparing a nutritional diet for the canine or feline companion animal based on the relationship.

The ‘587 Patent

1. A method for determining a nutritional diet for a canine or feline companion animal comprising the steps of:

(a) receiving first data relating the expression of at least one gene from a genomic map of the animal to a physiological condition of the animal,

(b) receiving second data comprising an effect of nutrition on the expression of least one gene from the genomic map;

(c) determining a relationship between the first and second data using a suitably programmed computer, and

(d) determining a nutritional diet for the animal based on the relationship of said first and second data.

Posture:

Motion for Summary Judgment

Exception Category: Abstract Idea

“The claims at issue here tell practitioners to: (1) measure and use data relating the map of part of the DNA sequence of the animal to a physiological condition of the animal, (2) measure and use data comprising the effect of nutrition on the expression of at least one gene from the map of part of the DNA sequence of the animal, (3) compare the two sets of data to determine a relationship, and (4) determine, formulate, and prepare a nutritional diet for that animal.”

“[T]he formulation and preparation of pet food is nothing more than an extension of the abstract idea of ‘determine’ a dog or cat’s diet. The creating or formulating processes directed in the claims are couched in the most general terms, lacking any specifics that would allow a practitioner to learn how to actually develop or produce such a diet.”

“The Court therefore agrees with Hill’s that the claims at issue encompass the abstract concept of determining a nutritional diet for a dog or cat based on naturally occurring relationships.”

Significantly More: No

“The Court agrees with Hemopet that this final step in the claims, creating a nutritional product for dogs or cats, is an additional step not found in previous claims the Supreme Court has addressed. …However, the Court finds Hill’s to be correct that this step is nothing more than a general ‘apply it’ step that does not transform an otherwise ineligible-patent concept into a patentable invention.”

“[C]laim 1 of the representative ′354 patent recites ‘measuring’ and ‘determining’ steps that the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit have found to be patent ineligible. …Only the final step, ‘determine a nutritional diet for the canine or feline companion animal; and formulate and prepare a nutritional diet product based on the relationship,’ relates to the creation of a ‘different state or thing.’ However, whether considered individually or in combination with the other steps, the claims do nothing more than instruct the practitioner to implement the abstract ideas of the first few unpatentable steps in the final step.”

The court did not place significant weight on Hemopet’s expert testimony that the claimed algorithms were complex and resulted in elucidation of previously unachievable relationships: “Dr. Sutter may be correct that ‘[a]nalyzing the relationships as disclosed in the invention is not merely a matter of comparing column A with column B in a simple 10 row spreadsheet,’ but measuring, storing, parsing, organizing, and analyzing the relationships of data are basic functions of a computer and database-related software.”

Finally, the court dismissed Hemopet’s assertion that the claims were limited to formulating a nutritional diet product, and thus did not preempt the abstract idea: Citing Bilski, (“the prohibition against patenting abstract ideas ‘cannot be circumvented by attempting to limit the use of the formula to a particular technological environment’ or adding ‘insignificant postsolution activity.’ ”), the court held that the limitation of formulating a nutritional diet product was “simply not enough to transform the abstract idea inherent in the claims into a patent-eligible invention.”