A Ray of Hope Under The Alice Decision
The recent verdict of Motio Inc. vs. Avnet Inc. has come up as an accurate example of bypassing invalidation based on the Alice decision.
Background – Avnet challenged Motio’s U.S. Patent No. 8,285,678 stating that it claims an abstract idea and cannot be patented as per Alice ruling. US’678 is directed to “version control” of business intelligence software, where version control allows software application developers and users to maintain a historical record of changes to the application or its stored data.
Patent Trial – The court conducted a 2-step Alice test to check the validity of US’678. The conclusion of the 2-step test is shared below:
Step 1: Determine if the patent is directed to a patent-ineligible concept (laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas).
Conclusion: The court agreed with Avnet that version control in US’678 is an abstract idea.
Step 2: Determine the presence of “inventive concept” i.e., an element or combination of elements that is sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the ineligible concept itself.
The court found the presence of the inventive concept in terms of “an automated agent,” described in the patent as something that “continuously monitors changes to, and the health and consistency of, a business intelligence software installation.” The court stated it as an improvement in business intelligence systems since the ‘automated agent’ solves the problem of a business intelligence system lacking native version control. Hence it adds to the abstract concept of US’678 and transforms the patent to an eligible concept.
This case creates an opening under Alice to show how to overcome the barriers put forward by the Alice decision. The introduction of the inventive concept (e.g., functions of the automated agent in this case) and their consideration in the court trial is definitely a silver lining for software-based patents.
We have also covered 7 other such cases where the claims of the patents overcame the 35 U.S.C. § 101 challenge under the Alice Decision. These cases hint claims and arguments that worked in the past and survived the Alice test. We have combined all these 7 cases into one single pdf for your convenience, which you can download by filing this tiny form below:
Authored by: Vincy Khandpur, Senior Researcher, Infringement Team