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.”