Judge Sorokin granted CarMax 2019s motion to dismiss, finding the asserted claims were directed to non-patentable subject matter. The patent -in-suit, U.S. 9,671,955, is directed to a 201cvirtual phone 201d in which a processor, memory, wireless communications and power ports, a touch screen, and a software application permits the emulation of the features of a handheld device (such as a smart phone) on the touch screen. This would allow a smartphone to be emulated on a touchscreen in a vehicle, permitting hands-free operation while maintaining the features and familiarity of location of the features of the phone. CarMax challenged the claims via a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted, asserting that the claims do not meet the eligibility standard set forth in the Supreme Court 2019s Alice Corp. decision. Applying the test for eligibility set forth in that case, Judge Sorokin first determined that the claims were directed to the idea of emulating the features of a smartphone or other handheld device on a different screen. As was done in many other cases looking at eligibility, Judge Sorokin looked to prior decisions to see if this concept is meaningfully distinguishable from other concepts found to be abstract 2013 courts do not appear to have a concrete method for determining whether the claimed idea is abstract, and instead analogize to prior cases. He did note that the claims recited a number of 201cgeneric computer components 201d without identifying how they worked together to create the claimed virtual smart phone, leaving the patent claiming the idea of an emulated smart phone rather than an actual functioning embodiment 2013 he found the claims to be 201cmerely drawn to the aspect of emulation and to the concept of generating a virtual smart phone 2013 an abstract idea 2013 and not to any particular concrete implementation of that idea. 201d
Having determined that the claims were directed to an abstract idea, Judge Sorokin next looked for an 201cinventive concept 201d that would transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible application, noting that under existing case law, 201cmore is required than well-understood, routine, conventional activity already engaged in by the scientific community. 201d Judge Sorokin found that the claims lacked any additional limitations that would ensure that they amounted to more than the ineligible concept itself. He stated that all of the claimed components were generically defined and conventional. Accordingly, he determined that the patent did no claim patent-eligible subject matter, and granted CarMax 2019s motion to dismiss.
While I am not suggesting that Judge Sorokin was or was not incorrect in this particular instance, the current Alice framework seems to be very subjective. The problem with this approach is that every patent claim can be stated in increasingly broad and abstract terms 2013 Edison 2019s light bulb patent, for example, could be described as the abstract idea of running electricity through a resistive element so as to general light, and so described may not have been deemed patentable absent further, concrete limitations. Given that this first step of stating the concept or idea of the claims does not appear to have any objective framework, it becomes difficult to determine how a claim will be treated in any given litigation, and the validity of a given patent may well hinge on the particular judge and the persuasiveness of the respective parties 2019 attorneys rather than the actual content of the specification and claims. One way to potentially overcome this problem might be to rely on concrete components and describe clearly how the components interact, rather than focusing on the function of the device or result of the interaction of the components.
By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Lando & Anastasi, LLP. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
SHARE THIS POST