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Intellectual Property – Patent Infringement Claim – Invalidity – Abstract Idea – Online Buying & Selling

VOIT Technologies, LLC v. Del-Ton, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-002-18, 7 pp.) (Terrence Boyle, J.) 5:17-cv-00259; E.D.N.C.

Holding: Plaintiff alleges that defendant’s online shopping portal infringes its patent of “a method of buying and selling an item” through the internet; however, plaintiff’s patent merely describes an abstract idea, so the process is not patent-eligible.

Defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted.

Plaintiffs patent describes the idea of transmitting compressed images from one computer to another in order to facilitate the buying and selling of goods. But plaintiff was unable to articulate what it is that it has actually invented. Instead, the patent strings together a description of things that already existed and calls that series of steps patent-eligible. It is not.

The patent repeatedly discusses image compression, but its text explains that “actual data compression methods employed could include the industry standard JPEG format … or other proprietary or commercially available techniques.” Similarly, the relational databases mentioned were well-established at the time of the patent application.

“Creating multiple sets of unique records managed in a unique way” is unexplained, but that may be for the best, as making copies is not an invention. Finally, as plaintiff concedes, the method described is done on general equipment.

What’s left is the idea of using these concepts in order to sell products. That is to say, rather than being an asserted improvement in computer capabilities, the patent deals with an abstract idea for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.

Plaintiff’s patent, then, is an abstract idea. Plaintiff has pointed to problems with image storage and transmission at the time of the patent’s application and priority date, and argues that improved image compression is the inventive concept. But image compression as utilized by this process predated the patent.

Plaintiff’s patent describes a process that cannot be patented.



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