CAFC Says Internet Message Publishing Not Patent-Eligible

The Federal Circuit has found patent-ineligible claims of five “patents [that] are generally directed to allowing ‘any person or organization to easily publish a message on the Internet.’” EasyWeb Innovations LLC v. Twitter Inc., No. 2016-2066 (May 12, 2017) (opinion by Judge Hughes; non-precedential). The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,032,030; 7,596,606; 7,685,247; 7,689,658; and 7,698,372.

Claim 1 of the ’247 patent was considered as representative for purposes of applying the Mayo/Alice patent-eligibility test:

A message publishing system (MPS) operative to process a message from a sender in a first format, comprising:

a central processor;

at least one sender account;

at least one storage area configured to store at least a first portion of the message; and

software executing in the central processor to configure the processor so as to:

identify the sender of the message as an authorized sender based on information associated with the message in comparison to data in the sender account, wherein the identification is dependent upon the first format;

convert at least a second portion of the message from the first format to a second format; and

publish the converted second portion of the message so as to be viewable in the second format only if the sender has been identified as an authorized sender.

Under the first prong of the patent-eligibility test, it took little analysis for the court to conclude that “claim 1 is directed to the abstract idea of receiving, authenticating, and publishing data.” It took even less analysis for the court to conclude, under the second prong of the Mayo/Alice test,  that the claims recited no “inventive concept” to make the abstract idea patent-eligible. Claim 1 included elements that “simply recited an abstract idea or an abstract idea executed using computer technology.”

Moroever, there was no inventive concept arising “from the ordered combination of steps.” The claim simply “recites the most basic steps in data collection, analysis, and publication and,” adding insult to the patent owner’s injury, the court explained that these steps “are recited in the ordinary order.”

The Federal Circuit thus affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment of patent ineligibility under 35 USC § 101.

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