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Patents For A Media Player That Provides Information With Multimedia Content Fail Under Section 101 | Holland & Knight LLP

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Disclosure: Holland & Knight LLP, including the author of this blog post, is representing Polar Electro in the litigation described below.

Interactive Wearables (IW) sued Polar Electro Oy and Polar Electro Inc., claiming two patents that claim the ability to “provide content information in conjunction with multimedia content”. Polar Electro requested that IW’s complaint be dismissed, arguing that the two patents targeted a subject matter not admissible under Section 101.

The court went thoroughly Alice stages 1 and 2, as well as the opportunity to rule on the procedural documents and to rule collectively on all the claims raised. After this analysis, the court concluded that the two patents claimed by IW were invalid because they concerned an object not eligible for the patent, and the court allowed Polar Electro’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.

Collective decision on all complaints

It is not necessary, the court noted, to deal with each claim of a contested patent individually when “several claims are substantially similar and relate to the same abstract idea.” With the two patents claimed by IW, other than a “wireless coupled” limitation, the claims contain insignificant limitations to distinguish them from the representative’s claim. As a result, the court ruled that it was free to dispose of the unrepresentative claims in less detail because the claimed claims all set out the same basic processes with only slight variations.

Alice The first step

Polar argued that the alleged allegations were aimed at “the abstract idea of ​​providing a user with information relating to multimedia content”. Rather, IW countered that the claims were directed to “a physical device having a specific combination of non-generic hardware components with specific characteristics.” . . [that] receives content with content information and pairs wirelessly with a remote control. “

The court, reading the claims in light of the specification, determined that the claimed patents were intended to provide “broadcasts as well as information relating to the contents of the respective show”. There is no further focus of the claims and, since patents describe specific components, it is simply a question of unspecifically indicating “how they achieve this result, and not of indicating that the components or their arrangement are a distinct improvement of and of themselves … In short, the specification here never suggests that the content player itself is technically improved. “

Looking specifically at the representative claim, the tribunal determined that the claim language itself reinforced the tribunal’s conclusion: “the claims are not focused on a specific stated improvement in computing capabilities, but rather are directed toward an abstract idea for which computers are invoked simply as a tool, that is to say, that of providing information in connection with media content. The court compared the claimed abstract idea to consulting a television guide.

IW argued that the claimed devices recited “concrete and tangible” components, but this did not alter the court’s finding. The fact that the claims were associated with a tangible physical machine is not determinative, and the resolution of the Section 101 inquiry into such an argument would make the determination of patent eligibility dependent “merely on the art. designer, ”which the US Supreme Court warned against.

The court then considered the relevance of determining admissibility under section 101 at the oral argument stage. While the ultimate determination of admissibility is a question of law, there may be questions of subsidiary fact that must be resolved en route to the legal determination. Nevertheless, the eligibility of the patent can be determined at the pleading stage when there are no factual claims that prevent the eligibility issue from being resolved.

Here, the tribunal analyzed IW’s claims and determined that the “generalized allegations of the complaint reinforce the idea that the plaintiff’s claims exist in the realm of the abstract idea.” In fact, “the kind of generalized claim made by the plaintiff – without any suggestion as to how so-called patented technology improves such a system – helps establish the defendants’ point of view: through the patent and this lawsuit, the plaintiff tries to monopolize an abstract idea “. The court concluded that the limitations of the claim simply limit the abstract idea to a particular environment – in this case, portable content players with remote control devices.

Alice Second step

The claimant again argued that his complaint “alleges specific facts in support of the inventiveness of the claims”, and this precludes rejection at the plea stage. These claims included claims regarding patents directed to an “enhanced content player that is portable and requires display and playback equipment that is configured to be wirelessly paired with a remote control having a second screen that can control the operation of the device. portable player content. “

The court disagreed. “The claims do not mention anything which, individually or in orderly combination, transforms the abstract idea of ​​providing information in conjunction with multimedia content into a patentable application of that idea.” In the present case, the claims of inventiveness by the Applicant were “mere conclusive statements which can rightly be ignored”.

In examining the components of the claimed claims, each component simply “narrates the performance of well understood, routine and industry known conventional activities”. In fact, the patents themselves define components in terms of “pre-existing generic technology”. The court reiterated that the components “are at best superficial and functional descriptions” and “such vague functional descriptions – or indeed, the lack of descriptions – of the content player’s components are insufficient to transform the abstract idea. into a patentable invention “.

Finally, while the plaintiff alleged that no system or device was available which could “provide radio broadcasts or television broadcasts as well as information regarding the content of the respective broadcast”, this is insufficient to safeguard patents at the pleading stage where the “patent is completely devoid of details describing How? ‘Or’ What this is accomplished. Additional allegations in the complaint “do not alter this conclusion, as they are simply conclusive or insufficient.” “

The court concluded that the limitations of the claims did not present an inventive concept to transform the nature of the claims into a patent eligible application. Further, the court determined that any change in conformity would be futile as the components are “fully generic” and the “specification defect in this regard, which applies to all components identified in the claims of the claimed patents,” cannot be corrected by new allegations in an amended complaint. Therefore, the court allowed Polar Electro’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.

The case is Interactive Wearables, LLC, v Polar Electro Oy, Polar Electro Inc. N ° 19-CV-3084 (GRB), 2020 WL 6792766 (EDNY November 19, 2020).

The representative’s claim

A content player including:

a receiver configured to receive content and with content information associated with the content,

a processor coupled to the receiver and configured to process the content and information associated with the content,

memory coupled to the processor,

a first display coupled to the processor, and

playback device equipment coupled to the processor and configured to deliver the content to a user of the content player, the playback device equipment comprising an audio player; wherein the content player is a portable content player configured to be controlled by a wireless remote control device including a second display, the wireless remote control device being configured to receive commands directing the operations of the portable content player, and wherein the wireless remote control device is configured to provide the user with at least part of the information associated with the content.

Thanks for the reading.

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