Judge Koeltl Grants Section 101 Motion to Dismiss: A System that Collects, Analyzes, and Displays Information is an Abstract Concept
On October 25, 2018, District Judge Koeltl (S.D.N.Y.) granted Nike, Inc.’s (“Nike”) motion to dismiss Personal Beasties Group LLC’s (“Personal”) complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because the claims of U.S. Patent 6,769,915 (“the ’915 patent”) are directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
The ’915 patent is entitled “Interactive System for Personal Life Patterns” and discloses a system of collecting user information, analyzing user information in accordance with “a predetermined set of behavioral pattern rules,” and displaying a character to the user based on the user’s behavior and predetermined rules. For example, if the user inputs certain behavioral goals, like weight loss, and the system determines that the weight loss goal is being met, a cartoon character with a happy face will appear.
The Court found claim 1 as representative of all the claims of the ’915 patent. It is directed to a behavioral modification system that includes: 1) an input means for inputting personal data into a base module; 2) a feedback interface within the base module to provide feedback to the user; 3) a database to maintain the personal data; 4) a controller unit to generate an output signal for causing feedback; and 5) communicating the feedback signal to the feedback interface to produce a character display to the user.
The Court applied the two-step framework in Alice to determine whether the claims were eligible for patent protection and noted that “[a]n invention that selects and then collects information, analyzes that information . . . and then presents the results of the analysis, without more, is unpatentable as an abstract idea.” The Court found that the limitations of claim 1 are simply “directed to helping users improve their behavior.” Nothing in the claim renders it non-abstract, and the claim “merely influences the type of information that is used by the system.” The claim was also found to be capable of performance by a human, as a doctor can receive information and goals from a patient, observe behavior in furtherance of the goals, and address the patient accordingly.
Since the claims of the ’915 were related to an abstract idea, the Court addressed step two of the Alice test. Here, the Court found that “using a character to display information plainly does not constitute a specific improvement to an existing technological process.” The process described in claim 1 was “ordered in a generic and conventional pattern” and “recites only generic computer parts used to carry out the process.” Therefore, there was no inventive concept to demonstrate that the invention does “significantly more than” the abstract idea.