January 18, 2022

Volume XII, Number 18

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CosmoKey Gets a Duo-Over – Federal Circuit Panel Reverses Finding of Ineligibility

In CosmoKey Solutions GMBH & Co. KG v. Duo Security LLC, No. 2020-2043 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 4, 2021), the Federal Circuit reversed a finding of ineligibility for claims directed to a computer authentication method.

CosmoKey’s patent is directed to an authentication method that requires a user to activate a timed authentication function on a mobile device to log into a computer. Duo Security moved for judgment on the pleadings. The district court found the claims ineligible under § 101, specifically finding that the claims were directed to the abstract idea of “authentication” at step one of Alice, and that the remaining elements were generic computer functionality at step two.

The Federal Circuit reversed. The majority first stated it was “not convinced” the claims were broadly “directed to” authentication, instead noting the focus of the claims and the specification on the activation of a timed authentication function. Nonetheless, according to the majority, answering this question at step one was “unnecessary” because the claims were eligible at step two for reciting a specific improvement to authentication that “increases security, prevents unauthorized access by a third party, is easily implemented, and can advantageously be carried out with mobile devices of low complexity.”

Judge Reyna concurred in the judgment, but did so by resolving the inquiry at step one, finding the claims directed to a “specific improvement to authentication.” He viewed the majority’s decision to skip step one and resolve the inquiry at step two as “turn[ing] the Alice inquiry on its head.” He noted that, without the step one analysis, it is difficult to determine whether “additional elements transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application” of an abstract idea.

© 2022 Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 319
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About this Author

Christopher C. Johns Patent Attorney Finnegan Law Firm
Associate

Chris Johns maintains a diverse patent practice, ranging from Section 337 litigation at the International Trade Commission (ITC) and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) trials to prosecution, portfolio development, and strategy. He has more than a decade of experience in the patent field, and his wide-ranging practice touches on nearly all aspects of patent prosecution and litigation.

On the prosecution and client counseling side, Chris has experience with drafting, prosecuting, and appealing patent applications related to electronics, software...

202-408-4155
Sydney R. Kestle Patent Attorney Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner Washington, DC
Associate

Sydney Kestle focuses on several areas of patent law, including pre-litigation due diligence, client counseling, litigation in U.S. district courts, and proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Her patent practice covers several technology sectors in the mechanical and electrical arts, including industrial manufacturing, medical devices, and wireless communications and related consumer products. 

Sydney has an undergraduate degree in bioengineering, with a focus in biomechanics tissue engineering and material...

202-408-4241
Elizabeth Ferrill Patent Attorney Finnegan Law Firm
Partner

Elizabeth Ferrill is an “undisputed expert on design patents” who is “always updated and enlightening others with her deep knowledge,” “very involved in the design bar,” and “gives her clients an outstanding service” as noted in Intellectual Asset Management Patent 1000. She focuses her practice on all aspects of design patents, including prosecution, counseling, post-grant, and litigation.

Elizabeth counsels clients who hold design patents as well as those accused of infringement. She has experience with design patents related to consumer and industrial products, medical...

202 408 4445
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