Lower Court decision in Local Intelligence shines light on Federal Circuit Core Wireless decision on interface software patent eligibility

  1. In Core Wireless, non-abstract display interface software claims survived Alice challenge before Federal Circuit on Alice Step One
  2. In Local Intelligence, display interface software patent claims survived Alice before N.D. Cal. for same reason because they cannot be distinguished
  3. Core Wireless provides valuable guidance for practitioners to follow in crafting interface software patent claims to overcome Alice

Interface Software Patent Eligibility

As patent practitioners gaze at the blackness in the software patenting sky, there appeared a pinprick of light, the decision of the Federal Circuit in Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. v. LG Elecs, which has increased in brightness from the recent decision of the N.D. Cal. in Local Intelligence v. HTC America.

In Core Wireless, decided on January 25, 2018, the Federal Circuit affirmed the trial court on § 101 in finding display interface software patent claims to be patent eligible under Alice. The Core Wireless Patent No. 8,713,476 and 8,434,020 claims on appeal are directed to improved display interfaces, particularly for electronic devices with small screens like mobile telephones. The claims recite (i) a display of one or more applications (e.g., a message application, a contacts application, a calendar application, a phone application) in an application launcher (ii) displaying data stored in the one or more applications (e.g., 0 messages in the message application, 2 SMS messages in the SMS application), and (iii) launching an application to the displayed data for further navigation.

In so deciding, the Federal Circuit explained that the claims recited an unconventional technological solution (displaying an application launcher for several applications, displaying data within applications in the launcher, and allowing a user to launch an application to the displayed data for further navigation) to a technological problem (navigating applications quickly and efficiently to access data and activate a desired function), affirming interface software patent eligibility.

The claims do not recite an abstract idea, the Federal Circuit explained. As a non-abstract idea, there was no need to apply Alice Step Two.

Even if Core Wireless was only a pinprick of light in the darkness when handed down in January, the Local Intelligence decision in April shines more light and brings greater clarity. In Local Intelligence v. HTC America et al., decided on April 6, 2018, the N.D. Cal. denied the HTC motion under 37 CFR 12(b)(6) to dismiss the infringement claims brought by Local Intelligence on the basis that the asserted patents fail to claim patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Local Intelligence Patent No. 8,903,067; 9,219,982; and 9,084,084 claims are directed to displaying content on a display panel of a computing device based on specific time and place data.

In so deciding, the N.D. Cal. explained that the claims recited an unconventional technological solution (displaying content based on the phone’s current location data from a location server, and data from a phone’s memory (as opposed to a carrier’s records), in order to provide and refresh location-relevant communication services on a phone’s display as the phone’s current location changes) to a technological problem (navigating services content provided by computing device more quickly and efficiently).

As the lower court explained “Core Wireless at the very least requires that a specific solution, reciting specific implementation detail, which purports to solve a problem within the technology of user interfaces in electronic devices with small screens, is not abstract. On this point, the claims of the Asserted Patents cannot be distinguished. Thus, the Court concludes that they are not directed to an abstract idea.” Op. at 14.

Read more about Core Wireless and  Local Intelligence in Keeping Tabs on Alice

Core Wireless, brightened by the Local Intelligence decision, is a guiding star for interface software patent eligibility, providing valuable guidance for practitioners to follow on how to craft interface software claims that overcome Alice. 

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