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Federal Circuit Upholds Software Claims as Eligible

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Sunday, January 25, 2015 by Jim Ruttler

After the Supreme Court decision in Alice, many thought software claims were no longer eligible for patent protection. Indeed, there were a number of trial and appellate decisions following Alice that invalidated software patents. However, there the Federal Circuit has finally provided an example of software claims that are still valid even post Alice. In DDR Holdings, a panel of the Federal Circuit held that claims directed towards managing website traffic by creating an intermediate page between a host and an advertiser site remain patent eligible. The reasoning for this was that the claims were not merely directed toward some old business practice that was implemented on a computer, but rather were directed toward solving a problem that was rooted in computer networks. Thus, the key moving forward (at least for now) is to make sure that your patent claims are directed toward subject matter that is rooted in computers and not merely directed toward software that solves an old business practice. The decision can be found here: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/13-1505.Opinion.12-3-2014.1.PDF. The representative claim that was upheld is:

  1. A system useful in an outsource provider serving web pages offering commercial opportunities,
    the system comprising:
    (a) a computer store containing data, for each of a plurality of first web pages, defining a plurality
    of visually perceptible elements, which visually perceptible elements correspond to the plurality
    of first web pages;
    (i) wherein each of the first web pages belongs to one of a plurality of web page owners;
    (ii) wherein each of the first web pages displays at least one active link associated with a
    commerce object associated with a buying opportunity of a selected one of a plurality of
    merchants; and
    (iii) wherein the selected merchant, the outsource provider, and the owner of the first
    web page displaying the associated link are each third parties with respect to one other;
    (b) a computer server at the outsource provider, which computer server is coupled to the computer
    store and programmed to:
    (i) receive from the web browser of a computer user a signal indicating activation of one of
    the links displayed by one of the first web pages;
    (ii) automatically identify as the source page the one of the first web pages on which the
    link has been activated;
    (iii) in response to identification of the source page, automatically retrieve the stored data
    corresponding to the source page; and
    (iv) using the data retrieved, automatically generate and transmit to the web browser a
    second web page that displays: (A) information associated with the commerce object
    associated with the link that has been activated, and (B) the plurality of visually perceptible
    elements visually corresponding to the source page.
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