Court Tosses Out Bogus Patent Used Against FindTheBest
from the abstract-ideas dept
We've been covering the ridiculous lawsuit by patent troll Lumen View against FindTheBest.com. When we last checked in, Lumen View was trying to get a gag order on FindTheBest and its CEO to get them to stop talking about the case. Last week that failed miserably, with the court saying:
The plaintiff does not come close to carrying the burden of justifying imposition of a gag order. The plaintiff first explains that its motion is predicated on Federal Rule of Evidence 408, which restricts the admission of settlement negotiations into evidence. That argument is meritless. Rule 408 is a rule of evidence. It is inapposite where, as here, the question is not whether material will be admitted into evidence in court but whether a party may discuss certain matters in public.
That was just the warmup, though, because now the court has invalidated the patent itself (US Patent 8,069,073), saying that it's unpatentable subject matter as an "abstract idea." The ruling relies on the Supreme Court's Bilski ruling and the super confusing CAFC ruling in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp.
Applying the principles of Benson, Flook, Dieher, and Bilski, along with what guidance can be wrought from Alice, it is evident that Claim 1 of the ‘073 patent claims an abstract idea and does not qualify as a “process” under Section 101. The ‘073 patent claims the idea of bilateral and multilateral matchmaking using a computer in the context of a financial transaction or an enterprise. It is preemptive in the broadest sense. And its only real limitation –- the use of a computer -- constitutes mere post-solution application of an abstract idea to a common context. The patent must be invalidated under any of the above described Supreme Court precedents as well as under either the Judge Laurie or the Judge Rader methodology in Alice.
It then goes into an almost astounding amount of detail as to why the patent is invalid. Basically, from whatever direction you look, the patent never should have been granted, and the court makes that pretty clear. A few choice quotes:
There is no inventive idea here. Having two or more parties input preference data is not inventive. Matchmakers have been doing this for millennia. Nor is an unspecified closeness of fit process an inventive idea. It is merely a mathematical manifestation of the underlying process behind matchmaking: determining good matches. Nothing in the ‘073 patent evinces an inventive idea beyond the idea of the patent holder to be the first to patent the computerization of a fundamental process that has occurred all through human history.
And, later, a quote that highlights how just asking a computer to do something doesn't make that computer a specialized machine:
Merely directing a computer to perform a function does not transform the computer into a specialized computer. Such a principle would lead to the absurd result of allowing the patenting the computerized use of even the most basic abstract ideas. Given the ubiquity of computers in modern life, adopting such a principle would have enormous preemptive effect. Nothing in Section 101 or the precedents interpreting it allow a party to monopolize the building blocks of innovation in a computerized world.
We'll see if Lumen View appeals, but so far it's been shown to be way out of its depth here. And, of course, it's still facing racketeering charges from FindTheBest over the manner in which it attempted to troll the company. Finding the patent invalid can't be helpful in trying to claim that Lumen View wasn't shaking down FindTheBest...