Judge Brown Disagrees with Both Parties on What the Claimed Invention is and Invalidates Wearable Content Patents Under 35 U.S.C. § 101
On November 19, 2020, District Judge Gary Brown (E.D.N.Y.) granted Defendants Polar Electro Oy and Polar Electro Inc.'s (collectively, "Polar Electro") motion to dismiss for lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
Plaintiff Interactive Wearables, LLC ("Interactive Wearables") accused Polar Electro of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 9,668,016 and 10,264,311 (collectively, the "asserted patents"), which are directed to wearable content players. The accused products are smartwatches designed to operate with remote control devices. The claims of the patents recite, among other elements, the following:
- a receiver configured to receive content and information associated the content;
- a processor coupled to the receiver and configured to process the content;
- memory coupled to the processor;
- a first display coupled to the processor;
- playing device equipment coupled to the processor and configured to provide the content to a user, the equipment comprising an audio player; and
- a wireless remote control device configured to receive commands and to provide at least a portion of the information associated with the content.
In the first step of the Alice framework, Polar Electro argued that the claims recite the abstract idea of providing information related to certain media using a content player that includes generic components used for their common purpose. Interactive Wearables responded that such characterization ignores the vast majority of claim limitations, which include elements such as the content player being wearable and able to connect wirelessly to a remote control. However, the Court ruled that neither party accurately captured the essence of the claims. In the Court’s view, the asserted patents identify the problem being solved as the failure of the prior art to provide broadcasts along with information regarding the content of the respective broadcast. The Court found that nothing else recited in the claims—including the computer components—is described in the specification as being the invention. In the Court’s view, the “invention” was not a wearable device or wireless coupling or any specific concrete device. It was an abstract idea that improperly preempted the field of providing information in conjunction with media content.
Turning to the second step of the Alice framework, Interactive Wearables argued that the Polar Electro failed to analyzed the claims as an ordered combination. It pointed to the prosecution history to show that the claimed invention was distinguished over the prior art because it is wearable and features a remote control with a display for providing information about content. The Court was not persuaded and found that the claims fail to recite any elements that individually or as an ordered combination transform the abstract idea of providing information in conjunction with media content into a patent-eligible application of that idea.
Case: Interactive Wearables LLC v. Polar Electro Oy, et. al., No. 19-cv-3084, Dkt. No. 28 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 19, 2020).