Richards Layton & Finger
 

Judge Andrews Denies Motion to Dismiss

October 12, 2017

In Acceleration Bay LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., C.A. No. 16-453-RGA (D. Del Aug. 29, 2017), Judge Andrews denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s patent infringement claims. In their motion to dismiss, the defendants argued that all claims of the patents at issue were invalid for lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The claims relate to a broadcast channel for a subset of computers that are part of a larger network. While the defendants argued that these claims are directed to the abstract idea of message-forwarding, similar to “the schoolyard game of telephone,” the Court held that the claims were not directed to a patent-ineligible abstract idea. Instead, the claims were directed to an innovative network structure that distributes data in accordance with the number of participants in a computer network. The Court noted that the communication scaling issues that arise in computer networks were not similarly present in the defendants’ analogies. Concluding that the defendants described the claims at an impermissibly high level of abstraction, the Court highlighted that the claims require a specific type of communication structure intended to improve communication based on scaling of network participants. Additionally, the Court held that the defendants’ argument that the claims were not patent-eligible subject matter because they were neither physical nor tangible structures was waived. Even if not waived, the Court noted that there was no basis to draw such a conclusion on a motion to dismiss.

Key Point: When evaluating patent eligibility, the Court will focus on the specific claims to distinguish the patents at issue from otherwise abstract ideas.