Judge Robinson grants motion to dismiss for lack of patentable subject matter

In a recent Memorandum Opinion, Judge Sue L. Robinson granted defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for lack of patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Device Enhancement LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc., C.A. No. 15-762-SLR (D. Del. May 17, 2016). Judge Robinson explained that “[i]n trying to sort through the various iterations of the § 101 standard, the court looks to” DDR Holdings and Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 2016 WL 2756255 (Fed. Cir. May 12, 2016) “as the benchmark in software and computer cases.” The patent-in-suit, U.S. Patent No. 7,747,683 (“the ‘683 patent”) “relates to a method and system for allowing a user of a terminal device to remotely operate upgraded and/or advanced applications without the need for upgrading the client side application or computational resources.” Id. at 13. Under the § 101 analysis, Judge Robinson described the claimed method in further detail as follows:

The claimed method, then, generally provides for the installation of a generic client-side application on the terminal device and the installation of a corresponding remote application on the server (which handles most of the graphical processing). The server exchanges data with the terminal device. Tasks are split between the client-side application and the remote application, albeit without further guidance from the patent. The processed content is then transmitted and the client-side application renders the content and responds to messages.

Id. at 18-19. Judge Robinson explained that the fact “[t]hat the method at bar may be described as the abstract idea of division of labor does not provide the answer to step one of the Alice inquiry as, ‘[a]t some level, all inventions . . . embody, use, reflect, rest upon, or apply laws of nature, natural phenomena, or abstract ideas.’” Id. at 17. Rather, Judge Robinson observed that “[t]he question such a broad disclosure poses is whether the patent – although computer-centric – would pre-empt substantially all uses of the underlying ideas at issue, that is, using distributed architecture to increase the capabilities of individual devices by using remote resources.” Id. at 19. Considering this question, Judge Robinson found that “[a]lthough, at this time, the degree of specificity required to pass muster under pre-emption is not at the micro-level (e.g., source code), the disclosures of the ‘683 patent are at the macro-level, that is, the patented method uses computerized devices (of any type) in conventional ways (installation of applications, data exchange, and data processing) without delineating any particular way of putting the ideas into practice.” Id.

Judge Robinson thus granted defendant’s motion to dismiss, noting that “[h]ere, it appears that the ‘683 patent pre-empts virtually all possible ways of performing the claimed method because the very steps of the method comprise nothing more specific than the underlying idea itself.” Id.

Device Enhancement LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc., C.A. No. 15-762-SLR (D. Del. May 17, 2016)

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