Alice in Patentland Laws & Processes

Alice in Patentland: Device Enhancement v. Amazon

PlaintiffDevice Enhancement, LLC
DefendantAmazon.com, Inc.
Case15-762-SLR
CourtDistrict of Delaware
JudgeSue L. Robinson (United States District Judge)
MotionMotion to Dismiss
DecisionGRANTED
Decision DateMay 17, 2016

Background – Amazon challenged Device Enhancement LLC’s U.S. Patent No. 7,747,683 stating that its claims simply recite a well-known idea of segmenting and formatting data for communication at different rates. Accordingly, Amazon argued that the patent is directed at patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Technology Involved: The US’683 patent discloses a method and system for allowing a user of a terminal device to remotely operate upgraded and/or advanced applications without the need for upgrading the client side application or computational resources. The patent identifies prior art methods which “have not yet provided satisfactory solutions to the problem of providing design tools of mobile applications that do not require adaptation of the client-side application to each terminal device, and that react in real-time to the state of the application and to the capabilities of the terminal device.” The patent aims to solve this problem and “provide design tools of applications that can be easily developed and implemented across platforms such as mobile devices and TV’s.”

Trial Proceedings – The court conducted Alice test to check the validity of US’683.

  • Determining whether the asserted claims are directed to an abstract idea.
  • 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.

Discussion:

Amazon described the invention as an abstract idea of “division of labor,” explaining that independent claim 1 divides (“dynamically splits”) the labor (“tasks to be performed by a content delivery application”) between computers (“client-side application and remote application”) according to “computational resources and inherent capabilities.” Defendant provided the court with examples of human division of labor as far back as Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Plaintiff, on the other hand, argued that claim 1 is “a solution to the computer-specific problem of delivering multimedia content to a variety of devices with limited resources and different capabilities.” Plaintiff directed the court’s attention to the step of “dynamically splitting … the tasks” and the computer centric language and components used by the claim.

Judge Robinson explained that “it is evident that there is a specificity requirement.”  The claim recited “various computer components” that “cover a broad spectrum of devices and networks.”  When summed, the claimed method “generally provides for the installation of a generic client-side application on the terminal device in the installation of a corresponding remote application on the server.”  The “specificity requirement” was not met.

The court thought that the degree of specificity required to pass muster under pre-emption was not at the micro-level (e.g., source code), the disclosures of the ‘683 patent were at the macro-level, that is, the patented method used computerized devices (of any type) in conventional ways (installation of applications, data exchange, and data processing) without delineating any particular way of putting the ideas into practice.

Conclusion: The court granted the defendant Amazon’s Motion to Dismiss and advised that a distinction must be drawn between claims that seek to pre-empt the use of an abstract idea, and claims that seek only to foreclose others from using a particular application of that idea. Judge Robinson agreed that the claimed method “would pre-empt substantially all uses of the underlying ideas at issue, that is, using distributed architecture to increase the capabilities of individual devices by using remote resources.”

7 comments

  1. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.