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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  Before Lourie, Wallach, and Stoll (nonprecedential)

Takeaways:

  • 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.”

Procedural Posture:

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.

Synopsis:

  • 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.

© 2018 Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP

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About this Author

Paul D. Ackerman, Litigation Attorney, Andrews Kurth Law Firm
Partner

Paul's practice involves all aspects of intellectual property law with an emphasis on patent litigation and trial. He has represented clients in a wide range of popular forums for patent litigation, such as the Eastern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Virginia, the District of Delaware, and the Northern and Central Districts of California, and in “337 actions” before the International Trade Commission. Paul has litigated both utility and design patent cases across a wide range of technologies, including cellular telephony, software, internet technology, semiconductor fabrication...

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Ksenia Takhistova, Andrews Kurth Law Firm, New York, Intellectual Property Litigation Attorney
Associate

Ksenia’s practice focuses on IP litigation and client counseling across a wide variety of modern technologies. She has substantial experience in all aspects of litigation, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in patent cases (including ANDA litigations) before the Federal District Courts, at the International Trade Commission, and in post-grant proceedings (IPRs) at the US Patent and Trademark Office. She also handles trademark (false advertising) and trade secret disputes in both Federal and State Courts. Ksenia also represents clients in settlement negotiations and IP licensing discussions, and performs due diligence and opinion work, including freedom-to-operate, patentability, infringement and validity analyses. Drawing on her educational and professional background in both the mechanical and chemical engineering fields, she is experienced in handling disputes in mechanical and medical devices, electrical and computer, life sciences, chemical, materials, and consumer products areas. She frequently writes on the current intellectual property law issues, and is active in professional associations for intellectual property and technology professionals.

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Qi Zhao, patent matters, Andrews Kurth Law Firm
Associate

Qi has over eight years of experience in assisting clients on patent matters. She has handled more than 100 opinion matters in the areas of pharmaceuticals, chemicals and medical devices. She prepares infringement, validity and freedom-to-operate opinions relating to filings of Abbreviated New Drug Applications and 505(b)(2) New Drug Applications by a generic drug manufacturer. She also prepares and prosecutes patent applications in various technical areas, including small molecule pharmaceuticals, biologics, antibodies, vaccines, diagnostic assays, personalized medicine, food products,...

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