Since the decision of Alice v. CLS Bank, courts have
routinely invalidated patents for being directed to nothing more
than abstract ideas with no inventive concept. However, there is
light at the end of the tunnel for patent holders as recent
decisions have begun to pull back the habitual invalidation of
patents on § 101 grounds. One decision, Core Wireless
Licensing S.a.r.l. v. LG Electronics, Inc. out of the Eastern
District of Texas, found a patent directed to data transmission
techniques not invalid based on the first step of the
Core Wireless Licensing asserted a single claim of U.S. Patent
No. 7,804,850 (the "'850 Patent") against LG
Electronics, Inc. ("LG"). The '850 Patent discloses
techniques to minimize interference from multiple devices
transmitting data simultaneously. The sole asserted claim
21. An apparatus comprising:
a memory adapted to store computer program instructions and a
virtual transmission time interval;
a wireless transceiver;
a processor adapted to:
check to determine whether the apparatus is transmitting data
packets in a current air interface transmission time interval;
for the case where it is determined that the apparatus is not
transmitting in the current air interface transmission time
interval, to cause the transmitter to transmit a next data packet
after a predetermined period associated with the virtual
transmission time interval has elapsed, wherein the next data
packet comprises at least one protocol data unit and the virtual
transmission time interval is an integer multiple of the current
air interface transmission time interval.
LG contended the modification of time between subsequent
transmissions by an integer multiple, as recited in claim 21 above,
is nothing more than the abstract idea of traffic metering, similar
to that performed at freeway onramps via traffic lights. The Court
disagreed and held claim 21 passed the first step of the
Alice framework, and was therefore not invalid under
The Court analyzed whether claim 21 is directed to an abstract
idea or, instead, is directed to a concrete improvement in the
functionality of the claimed device itself. The Court held claim 21
improves the functionality of the computer itself because it is
directed to a specific type of packet traffic metering that is
confined to, and solves problems arising in, mobile device
In addition, the Court's holding rested upon a
non-preemption finding. The Court concluded claim 21 is directed to
a specific type of packet traffic metering confined to, and solving
problems arising in, mobile device networks. To support this
conclusion, the Court noted claim 21 is restricted to a wireless
device with a processor and a memory, and is also restricted to the
transmission of a protocol data unit by exactly an integer multiple
of the current air interface transmission time interval.
Courts are more routinely finding computer-related patents valid
in the face of Alice challenges. If a patent holder is to
succeed against an Alice challenge, the patent holder
would be well served to paint the challenged claims in a narrow
fashion and draw specific attention to preemption limiting factors
in the claims.
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