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Federal Circuit Reaffirms Targeted Advertising Is an Abstract Concept

In Free Stream Media Corp. v. Alphonso Inc., No. 2019-1506 (Fed. Cir. May 11, 2021), the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s determination that the asserted claims were not patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Free Stream sued Alphonso for infringement of its patent related to targeting advertisements at a user’s mobile phone based on data gathered from the user’s television. This is achieved by bypassing the conventional “security sandbox” separating the mobile phone from the television. Alphonso moved to dismiss Free Stream’s infringement claim, arguing the asserted claims were invalid under § 101. The district court denied the motion finding that the claims were not directed to an abstract idea.

The Federal Circuit reversed, determining that the claims were directed to the abstract idea of “targeted advertising.” The Court further determined that the disclosure of methods of improving computer functionality in the specification could not save the asserted claims, which did not recite those methods. Finally, the Court was not persuaded that the claims embodied an “inventive solution to a problem”; rather, the Court found that the claims simply recited conventionally arranged generic components that, even as an ordered combination, failed to permit “communications that were previously not possible.”

© 2021 Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 137
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About this Author

Caitlin O’Connell Intellectual Property Litigation Attorney Finnegan Law Firm
Associate

Caitlin O’Connell focuses her practice on patent litigation and client counseling in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, with particular emphasis on Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) cases.

Caitlin is involved in all phases of litigation, including pre-litigation analysis, claim construction, fact discovery, expert discovery, and trial. Caitlin’s litigation experience includes drafting pleadings, preparing fact and corporate witnesses for depositions, coordinating discovery, working with experts to develop infringement and validity positions, preparing expert...

202 408 4004
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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