Judge Andrews Denies Motion for Summary Judgment, Citing Patent’s Inventive Concept

May 12, 2016

Publication| Intellectual Property

In ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH v. Google Inc., C.A. No. 14-217-RGA (D. Del. Apr. 28, 2016), Judge Andrews denied defendant Google, Inc.’s (“Google”) motion for summary judgment under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The plaintiff, ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH (“ACI”), alleged that Google infringed a patent describing a software method for representing “space-related data, particularly geographical data of flat or physical objects.” Google moved for summary judgment on the basis that the patent at issue was directed to patent-ineligible subject matter: the abstract idea of “storing image data, then repeatedly requesting specific data, which is then stored and displayed.” According to Google, this subject matter was patent-ineligible since it was merely an electronic variation of a long-standing, common human activity: visiting a library and viewing an atlas containing maps with different resolutions.

Judge Andrews agreed that the patent was directed to an abstract idea under the first step of Alice, but held that the patent included an “inventive concept” under the second step. ACI pointed to “spatially-distributed sources of data” and “selectable viewpoints” described in the claim as evidence of inventive concepts. Despite Google’s description of these steps as “conventional” and comparable to dividing data as records in a courthouse or a collection of photographs, Judge Andrews agreed with the plaintiff, holding that the patent claims more than just an abstract idea. Rather, according to Judge Andrews, the patent aims to provide improvements over prior art systems that are incapable of “provid[ing] an image generation rate which is sufficient upon alteration of the location or of the direction of view . . . to provide the impression of continuous movement.” As such, Judge Andrews concluded that the patent was eligible under Section 101 and denied Google’s motion for summary judgment.

Analysis: Like the YYZ decision discussed above, this opinion may be indicative of a trend toward greater scrutiny of motions to dismiss under Section 101.

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