In another decision applying the two-step framework for determining patent eligible subject matter laid out in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit addressed the patent eligibility of claims to an Internet content filtering system. In BASCOM Global Internet Services, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, the Federal Circuit held that BASCOM’s U.S. Patent 5,987,606 (“the ‘606 patent) was not invalid as a matter of law, vacated a district court’s order to dismiss, and remanded for further proceedings.
The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in UltimatePointer v. Nintendo (Fed. Cir. Mar. 1, 2016) provides a reminder of the need to use caution when drafting a claim that could be read to cover both a device and a method of use.
UltimatePointer is the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 8,049,729 (the ‘729 patent), which is generally directed to a handheld pointing device that can be used to control the cursor on a projected computer screen, thereby improving a presenter’s ability to control the cursor while making a presentation to an audience. UltimatePointer asserted several claims of the ‘729 patent against Nintendo, with Nintendo’s Wii remote being the accused product. A key issue in the litigation was whether the asserted claims were invalid for impermissibly reciting both a device and a method in the same claim.
Summary: Two recent Federal Circuit cases serve as a reminder that the means-plus-function doctrine should be at the forefront of practitioners’ minds when drafting or evaluating patent claims, particularly in the case of computer-implemented inventions. These cases also demonstrate yet another weapon for invalidating functionally-claimed software patents.
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