Riggs Technology Holdings, LLC v. Cengage Learning, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2022-1468).

  • January 17, 2023

Riggs alleges that Cengage infringes U.S. Patent No. 7,299,067, which is directed to the provision of training through networks to computers and portable hand-held devices such as smart phones, as well as logging and certifying such training and authenticating users who receive the training.  The specification states that the breadth of the invention includes “all forms of education, instruction and training that the present invention can broadly apply.”  The patent claims priority to a 2001 provisional application.

Judge Sorokin granted Cengage’s motion to dismiss the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure of the complaint to claim patentable subject matter.  Using the two-step Alice framework, Judge Sorokin determined that the claims were directed to the abstract idea of remote training under wither parties’ proposal of what the claims covered.  He compered these claims to others found ineligible by the Federal Circuit and found the level of abstraction to be similar to those claims (a fairly common approach to step one of the Alice framework).  He noted that claims such as these that recite software and generic computer components that perform an existing process, without claiming or describing how to implement the process, are generally deemed to cover an abstract idea. 

He then determined that the elements of the claim did not add anything to transform the claims into eligible subject matter.  He noted that the claimed components and features, such as “server,” “data network,” hand held device,” and the like are generic and conventional and further that the inventor does not claim to have invented.

Finally, Judge Sorokin noted that the Northern District of California had found earlier in January that the ‘067 patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and dismissed a complaint invoking that patent with prejudice.  Accordingly, he granted Cengage’s motion and dismissed the complaint.

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