September 21, 2023


Move Step By Step

“Intent Engine” Claims Fail 101 for Lack of Technological Ingenious Idea

4 min read

by Dennis Crouch

USC IP P’ship, L.P. v. Meta Platforms (Facebook), 22-1397 (Fed. Cir. August 30, 2023)

In a non-precedential opinion authored by Decide Pauline Newman, the Federal Circuit has affirmed USC IP Partnership’s asserted patent claims are all invalid.  Again in 2020, USC IP sued Fb for infringing its U.S. Patent No. 8,645,300.  The arguably pro-patentee Decide Alan Albright served because the district courtroom decide.  Like Decide Newman, he had additionally discovered the claims invalid as unduly directed to an summary concept. USC IP P’ship, L.P. v. Fb, Inc., 576 F. Supp. 3d 446 (W.D. Tex. 2021) (granting abstract judgment of ineligibility).

A problem with serps, and communication typically, is that events typically fail to totally and actually state their wants.  We are sometimes left inferring intent primarily based upon different clues, comparable to situational context or our data of the speaker.  USC IP’s ‘300 patent makes an attempt to offer some options to this drawback via its “intent engine” that makes use of an “intent device” in addition to a rating device to offer higher outcomes. The intent engine analyzes details about the person to foretell their intent and shows this inferred intent within the intent area. It additionally recommends webpages matching the intent within the suggestion area. The person can present rating information on how properly the webpage matches their intent by way of the rating device, and this information is saved in a database. As recited within the claims, the intent engine combines intent prediction, webpage suggestion, and person rating to ship a personalized searching expertise. However, the claims concentrate on the high-level performance of the system moderately than the technical particulars of how intent evaluation, suggestion algorithms, or information storage function.  In a number of the claims, the method is interactive — with the system prompting guests to verify their intent earlier than recommending webpages matching the intent.

As per traditional, the Federal Circuit analyzed patent eligibility beneath the two-step take a look at set forth in Alice Corp. v. CLS Financial institution Int’l, 573 U.S. 208 (2014). At the 1st step, the courtroom seems to be as to if the claims are directed to an summary concept comparable to a basic financial observe or mathematical system. If that’s the case, the courtroom proceeds to step two, the place it considers whether or not the claims include an “ingenious idea” adequate to rework the summary concept right into a patent-eligible software. This course of entails wanting on the declare parts individually and together to evaluate whether or not they quantity to considerably greater than the summary concept itself.

Making use of the two-step Alice framework, the Federal Circuit agreed with the district courtroom that the claims are directed to the summary concept of “amassing, analyzing and utilizing intent information.” This sort of information assortment and evaluation is an summary concept, even  if applied on a pc. The courtroom in contrast USC IP’s claims to these invalidated in Electrical Energy Group, LLC v. Alstom S.A., 830 F.3d 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

At Alice step two, the courtroom agreed that the claims lack an ingenious idea to rework the summary concept right into a patent-eligible software. They merely invoke generic pc elements like internet browsers and databases. As Decide Albright defined, the “intent engine” is described solely as a black field with out accompanying technical particulars.

The patentee’s key argument on enchantment was at step-2, arguing that the “intent engine” was not a standard or generic pc element, however supplied a technical answer rooted in pc know-how just like the claims in DDR Holdings. The patentee argued the intent engine performed a job that went past well-understood, routine, and standard pc performance.  And, the patentee supplied skilled testimony on the district courtroom degree in an try and assist this conclusion.

On enchantment, the Federal Circuit rejected these arguments and once more affirmed Decide Albright’s holdings. Albright had disregarded the skilled testimony as merely offering authorized conclusions with out underlying factual assist — discovering it not “backed by any concrete details from the specification or prior artwork.”  The appellate panel went on to agree that the ‘300 patent claims are usually not directed to any enchancment in pc performance itself however merely describe the use computer systems as a device.

The claims right here had been filed and issued previous to Alice and Mayo at a time when many patents had been centered extra on the purposeful phrases with out the accompanying technical particulars.  At the moment, many are considering of comparable instruments within the generative AI context. Like right here, I count on that gen-AI instruments will face excessive patent eligibility obsticles absent inclusion of sturdy technical implementation particulars positioned at the least throughout the specification, however extra probably throughout the claims themselves.


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