Alice in Patentland Laws & Processes

Alice in Patentland: Art+Com v. Google

PlaintiffArt+Com Innovationpool Gmbh
DefendantGoogle Inc.
Case14-217-RGA
CourtDistrict Of Delaware
JudgeRichard G. Andrews (United States District Judge)
MotionMotion for Summary Judgement
DecisionDENIED
Decision DateApril 28, 2016

Background – Google challenged Art+Com Innovationpool’s U.S. Patent No. RE44,550 stating that claim 1, the only independent claim, is directed at patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Google argued that claim 1 is directed to the abstract idea of storing image data, then repeatedly requesting specific data, which is then stored and displayed.

Technology Involved – The US ‘550 patent describes a software-implemented method for providing a pictorial representation of space-related data, particularly geographical data of flat or physical objects. The purported solution is two-fold: (1) to obtain data from spatially distributed data sources; and (2) to utilize a recursive process to request and display data with increasing resolution for a field of view.

Trial Proceedings – The court conducted a 2-step Alice test to check the validity of US ’550.

Step 1: Determining whether the asserted claims are directed to an abstract idea.

Finding: Google contended that the steps of the ‘550 patent, like those in Encyclopaedia Britannica., “can be analogized to the age-old practice of a visitor in a library reviewing atlases that include maps with differing resolutions or scales.” The court analogized the claimed subject matter to atlases and encyclopaedias and deemed the steps to be “variations on activities humans have performed for thousands of years using paper maps and other reference works.” The court therefore concluded that the claims were directed to an abstract idea of storing image data, then repeatedly requesting specific data, which is then stored and displayed.

Step 2: Determining the presence of “inventive concept” i.e., an element or combination of elements sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the abstract idea itself.

Finding: ACI contended that there were inventive concepts expressed in steps (a), (c), and (f) of claim 1. These steps describe “spatially-distributed sources of data,” “using the data to get a selectable viewpoint and extracting the data with regard to the selectable viewpoint,” and “dividing and using different resolutions for different sections with further subdividing”.

As an ordered combination, the iterative process in the ‘550 patent allows a user to access more electronic pictorial data in a more rapid fashion. The distributed data sources permit a user to access masses of data, while the recursive division step permits a user to access that data quickly, with increasing resolution over time. This amounts to “more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the abstract idea itself and transforms the patent to an eligible concept.

Conclusion – The Court found that ACI had claimed more than the abstract idea of storing image data, then repeatedly requesting specific data, which is then stored and displayed, hence, the motion for summary judgement was DENIED.

6 comments

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