September 29, 2023


Learn Business From Experience

Person Matching Patent Fails 101 Check for Missing Technical Enchancment

3 min read

by Dennis Crouch

Trinity Information Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc., No. 2022-1308, — F.4th — (Fed. Cir. July 14, 2023).

Trinity Information Media sued Covalent for infringing two patents protecting a strategy of connecting customers based mostly on polling query solutions – US Patent Nos. 9,087,321 and 10,936,685. The patents describe a system the place customers reply polling questions and the system makes use of these solutions to discover a “chance of match” between customers. Connections are steered for high-likelihood matches. The system makes use of typical laptop elements like processors, reminiscence, servers, and so forth. The ‘685 patent provides limitations about performing operations on a handheld system, displaying outcomes through swiping, and utilizing a cellular app.

The district court docket granted Covalent’s movement to dismiss, discovering the asserted claims ineligible below 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed after analyzing the claims below the two-step Alice/Mayo framework:

Step 1 – Decide if the claims are directed to a patent ineligible idea like an summary thought.

  • The court docket discovered the claims are directed to the summary thought of “matching based mostly on questioning”, which includes gathering consumer data, analyzing it, and displaying outcomes.
  • This can be a psychological course of that could possibly be carried out by people with out a pc. Utilizing generic technical elements doesn’t change the character of the claims.

Step 2 – Decide if the claims recite an creative idea, i.e. one thing considerably greater than the summary thought.

  • The court docket discovered the claims don’t comprise an creative idea. The extra components like processors, servers, cellular units, and so forth. are generic and standard.
  • They’re utilized in a traditional technique to apply the summary thought, which is inadequate to qualify as considerably extra.
  • The alleged advance of real-time matching based mostly on polling doesn’t make the claims patent eligible. That merely displays use of generic computer systems to hurry up the method.

At oral arguments, the patentee’s lawyer (Gregory Hillyer) argued that a greater framing of the invention was the requiring of a “distinctive identifier to the reply in order that that reply can discover its place in a brand new and novel array of match servers, quite than a single match server that must later be searched.”  Sadly for the patentee these options weren’t really required by the claims. Decide Cunningham pressed the patentee to establish particular non-conclusory allegations within the criticism about inventiveness. The patentee had issue citing something substantial.

The patentee (Trinity) supplied quite a lot of arguments, however the court docket rejected each in flip:

  • Trinity argued the claims recite particular enhancements to laptop capabilities, like utilizing “a number of match servers” and a “match aggregator.” Nonetheless, the court docket discovered these have been merely generic laptop elements utilized in a traditional technique to implement the summary thought.
  • Trinity argued the claims recite a technical answer to an issue, like permitting “speedy real-time matching.” However the court docket discovered this merely makes use of computer systems to make the method sooner, which isn’t sufficient for patent eligibility.
  • Trinity argued people can’t carry out psychological matching as quick because the claimed system. Nonetheless, the court docket famous the claims don’t require the alleged enhancements in velocity or functionality. Reasonably, the main focus of the claims themselves was on the summary thought.
  • Trinity argued the claims recite unconventional options like utilizing a handheld system and swiping to evaluate matches. Nonetheless, the court docket discovered these limitations simply apply the summary thought utilizing generic expertise, and should not an creative idea.  These have been generic elements by the point of the invention.
  • Trinity relied on allegations that some limitations weren’t within the prior artwork. Nonetheless, the court docket discounted these conclusory statements, noting that an summary thought stays summary even when some laptop limitations are novel.

In the long run, the appellate panel affirmed the decrease court docket’s obviousness discovering.

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Patent eligibility can generally contain underlying factual questions, however that this was not a kind of circumstances. The quoted Berkheimer to elucidate that ‘not each § 101 willpower incorporates real disputes over the underlying details materials to the § 101 inquiry.’  Right here, the court docket additionally concluded that declare development and discovery weren’t mandatory precursors for the 101 evaluation for the reason that patentee didn’t establish any proposed declare constructions or particular details that will have an effect on the 101 evaluation.


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