Ruttler Mills PLLC

Seattle Patent Attorneys and Trademark Lawyers

206-838-6400 Complimentary 15 Minute Consultation

Electric Power Group v. Alstom

Posted Friday, August 12, 2016 by Jim Ruttler

Yet another patent eligibility decision has come down from the Federal Circuit. We've had a number of decisions recently from the Federal Circuit affirming software eligibility, including DDR, Enfish, and Bascom. However, here, the Federal Circuit affirmed the ineligibility of the claims and invalidated the patent in its entirety.

The claims at issue were directed toward monitoring traffic in a network, detecting problems, and displaying results. The Court had no problem summarizing these claims as mere data gathering and display of information, which resulted in an easy invalidation under Step 1 of the Alice framework set forth by the Supreme Court.

The Court, however, clarified that not all data gathering or display of information is ineligible for patent protection. The line the Court drew is whether the claimed invention describes a particular way of doing the data gathering and display or just merely claims all data gathering and display. Here, the claims were pretty generic and therefore were deemed abstract and unpatentable.

It is unfortunate that the claims at issue here were issued by the Patent Office under different rules and law that, at the time, permitted this type of claim language. The Supreme Court has retroactively applied the law to take away patent rights that have been relied upon for many years without any compensation to the patent owner who spent time and money to obtain the patents under the different law.

Yet, for new prospective patentees, the path forward is much clearer. Focus on specific improvements and even software will be deemed eligible.

Electric Power Group v. Alstom ›› Ruttler Mills PLLC