Judge Robinson Rejects Section 101 Challenge to Smart Power Meter Patent

Judge Robinson recently denied a motion to dismiss under Section 101, finding that the invention in question was not directed to an abstract idea. The claim in question, claim 17 of U.S. Patent No. 7,058,524, reads as follows:

A method of measuring power consumption information on a power line comprising:
measuring current fluctuations in the power line;
calculating power consumption information from the current fluctuations in a processor;
converting the power consumption information into IP-based power consumption information in the processor; and
transmitting the IP-based power consumption information from the processor to a destination autonomously in IP format over an external power line network.

The defendant advanced several arguments that each aspect of this claim was directed to an abstract idea of “measuring and transmitting power consumption information that has been performed for years by human meter readers” and “measure[ing] and transmit[ting] power consumption information using admittedly conventional technologies.” Specifically, the defendant argued that “(1) the steps of claim 17 ‘do not involve any scientific or technical innovation, but merely recite a way of measuring and transmitting power consumption information;’ (2) ‘[p]ower utility companies have measured power consumption information for decades using human meter readers;’ [and] (3) ‘the specification expressly acknowledges that the claimed invention could be performed by a meter-reading human’ which is ‘an indication that the claimed invention is directed to an abstract idea.’” Smart Meter Techs. Inc. v. Duke Energy Corp., C.A. No. 16-208-SLR, Memo. Or. at 4-8 (D. Del. July 11, 2017). Judge Robinson rejected these arguments, finding that the specification supports a broader reading of the claim than these characterizations that includes a number of embodiments and possible benefits of the invention, only one of which is replacing human meter readers, and “a claim is not ‘directed to’ a specific embodiment when multiple embodiments are potentially covered by the claim limitations.” Id. at 8-9.

Smart Meter Techs. Inc. v. Duke Energy Corp., C.A. No. 16-208-SLR (D. Del. July 11, 2017).

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