Patent Case Summaries March 6, 2019

Patent Case Summaries | Week Ending March 1, 2019

A weekly summary of the precedential patent-related opinions issued by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the opinions designated precedential or informative by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc. v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 18-1284 (Fed. Cir. (N.D. Fla.) Feb. 26, 2019). Opinion by Moore, joined by Prost and Wallach.

The University of Florida Research Foundation (UFRF) sued certain GE entities for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,062,251. GE moved to dismiss, arguing that the claims are directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The district court agreed with GE, finding that the claims are directed to an abstract idea and do not recite an inventive concept.

On appeal, UFRF argued that, as an arm of the State of Florida, it was entitled to and had not waived sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. Addressing that issue, the Federal Circuit first determined that a § 101 eligibility challenge is a defense to a claim of infringement. The Federal Circuit then held that by bringing its infringement claim, UFRF had “waived its sovereign immunity not only as to the cause of action but also as to any relevant defenses,” including GE’s § 101 defense. Therefore, the district court properly had subject matter jurisdiction to hear GE’s § 101 eligibility challenge.

Turning to the merits, the ’251 patent is directed to a method and system for “integrat[ing] physiologic data from at least one bedside machine.” The patent describes automating the collection of patient data from bedside machines by replacing “pen and paper methodologies” with “data synthesis technology.” The Federal Circuit noted that “[t]his is a quintessential ‘do it on a computer’ patent.” Applying the two-step Alice framework, the Federal Circuit first determined that the claims are directed to the abstract idea of “collecting, analyzing, manipulating, and displaying data.” Addressing step two, the court held that the claims do no “more than simply instruct the practitioner to implement the abstract idea … on a generic computer.” Thus, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of GE’s motion to dismiss.

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