A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Court Invalidates Patent As Claiming Patent-Ineligible Subject Matter

In a June 29, 2015 ruling, Judge Katherine Polk Failla invalidated U.S. Patent No. 7,885,887 under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as claiming ineligible subject matter. The Court summarized representative claim 1 as having the following “relevant limitations”:
(i) a computer operating either on the Internet or other network with access to a server; (ii) providing software tools with a suite of features allowing management of one or more creative projects; (iii) making certain types of offers associated with the project in exchange for funds for the project; (iv) facilitating the acceptance of offers by fans; (v) storing contact and marketing information of those who have accepted offers in exchange for funds in a database; and (vi) providing software tools that enable and control the exchange of information with a fan through the database.
In invalidating the patent, Judge Failla first noted that the “‘887 Patent’s claims are directed to the concept of a crowd-funding or fan-funding, i.e., raising funds for a project from interested individuals in exchange for incentives,” and concluded that these “claims are squarely about patronage – a concept that is ‘beyond question of ancient lineage.’” The Court then considered whether the claims in the ‘887 patent nevertheless had an “inventive concept,” and found that beyond “the abstract idea of patronage, the claims merely recite ‘well-understood, routine conventional activities or routine data-gathering steps.” Judge Failla thus concluded that “because the ‘887 Patent claims the abstract idea of incentive-based fan-funding and lacks an ‘inventive concept’ sufficient to ‘transform’ the claimed subject matter into a patent-eligible application of that idea, it is invalid under Section 101.”
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