Patents for Real Estate Searching on a Computer Are Invalid Under Section 101
MOVE, INC. v. REAL ESTATE ALLIANCE Ltd., case no. 2017-1463, Feb. 1, 2018. Before Lourie, Wallach, and Stoll (nonprecedential)
Under Alice step one, a claimed method “for collecting and organizing information about available real estate properties and displaying this information on a digital map that can be manipulated by the user” is directed to an abstract idea.
Under Alice step two, a claim reciting only generic computer components and features, and the creation of a database does not present an inventive concept to support patent eligibility.
The patentee conceded the invalidity of its second patent when, in a joint status report, it expressly stated that the district court’s invalidity decision regarding the first patent “resolve[d] all issues in this action.”
Real Estate Alliance (“REAL”) appealed District Court’s summary judgment invalidating one of its asserted patents under section 101 for claiming ineligible subject matter, and invalidating the other asserted patent sua sponte based on its own representations in a joint status report. The Federal Circuit affirmed.
Subject Matter Eligibility—Alice Step 1: The District Court properly granted summary judgment that one of the asserted patents, U.S. Patent No. 5,032,989, was invalid under section 101, because the patent was directed only to the abstract idea of collecting, organizing, and presenting information about real estate using a computer, without technical details or explanation of how to implement the claimed abstract idea. The following limitations were not deemed to recite technological advances sufficient to overcome the abstract idea determination under Alice step 1: (1) creation of a database of the available real estate properties; and (2) zooming in on a selected geographic area.
Subject Matter Eligibility—Alice Step 2: The patentee’s argument that the “zoom” feature supplied the inventive concept under Alice step 2 was rejected by the Federal Circuit, because REAL’s only support was a conclusory expert declaration with no citations or additional rationale for support.
Federal Court Procedure: The patentee conceded the invalidity of its second asserted patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,870,576, when in a Joint Status Report it represented that the Court’s order invalidating the ’989 patent “effectively resolves all issues to this action” The Federal Circuit found that the phrase “this action” referred to the entire litigation, not just its Phase 1, as the patentee argued.