Saturday, March 30, 2019

CAFC - SRI v. Cisco - Patent Eligible under 35 USC 101

In SRI International v. Cisco Systems, the Federal Circuit recently held U.S. Patent No. 6,711,615 (the '615 patent) and U.S. Patent No. 6,484,203 (the '203 patent) relating to computer network security patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The '615 patent abstract: "A method of network surveillance includes receiving network packets handled by a network entity and building at least one long-term and a least one short-term statistical profile from a measure of the network packets that monitors data transfers, errors, or network connections. A comparison of the statistical profiles is used to determine whether the difference between the statistical profiles indicates suspicious network activity."

The '203 patent abstract: "A computer-automated method of hierarchical event monitoring and analysis within an enterprise network including deploying network monitors in the enterprise network, detecting, by the network monitors, suspicious network activity based on analysis of network traffic data selected from the following categories: {network packet data transfer commands, network packet data transfer errors, network packet data volume, network connection requests, network connection denials, error codes included in a network packet}, generating, by the monitors, reports of the suspicious activity, and automatically receiving and integrating the reports of suspicious activity, by one or more hierarchical monitors."

The Federal Circuit explained its decision that the claims were patent eligible:

"To determine whether a patent claims ineligible subject matter, the Supreme Court has established a two-step framework.

"First, we must determine whether the claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept such as an abstract idea. Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. 208, 217 (2014).

Second, if the claims are directed to an abstract idea, we must “consider the elements of each claim both individually and ‘as an ordered combination’ to determine whether the additional elements ‘transform the nature of the claim’ into a patent-eligible application.” Id. (quoting Mayo, 566 U.S. at 79). To transform an abstract idea into a patent-eligible application, the claims must do “more than simply stat[e] the abstract idea while adding the words ‘apply it.’” Id. at 221 (quoting Mayo, 566 U.S.
at 72.

We resolve the eligibility issue at Alice step one and conclude that claim 1 is not directed to an abstract idea. See Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327, 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

The district court concluded that the claims are more complex than merely reciting the performance of a known business practice on the Internet and are better understood as being necessarily rooted in computer technology in order to solve a specific problem in the realm of computer networks. Summary Judgment Op., 179 F. Supp. 3d at 353–54 (citing ’203 patent col. 1 ll. 37–40; DDR Holdings, LLC v., L.P., 773 F.3d 1245, 1257 (Fed. Cir. 2014)). We agree.

The claims are directed to using a specific technique—using a plurality of network monitors that each analyze specific types of data on the network and integrating reports from the monitors—to solve a technological problem arising in computer networks: identifying hackers or potential intruders into the network."

Copyright © 2019 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Reuters - U.S. judge rules Qualcomm owes Apple nearly $1 billion rebate payment

The mobile computing patent war never stops (too much money at stake).

This week Reuters reports: "A U.S. federal judge has issued a preliminary ruling that Qualcomm Inc. owes Apple Inc. nearly $1 billion in patent royalty rebate payments, though the decision is unlikely to result in Qualcomm writing a check to Apple because of other developments in the dispute."

As background, Qualcomm threatened to withhold mobile chips if Apple refused to pay a significant increase in the patent royalty rate. I don't think it is the smartest move to attempt to strong arm Apple with patents, but then life is about learning.

As stated in Reuters: "contract factories that built Apple’s iPhones would pay Qualcomm billions of dollars per year for the use of Qualcomm’s patented technology in iPhones, a cost that Apple would reimburse the contract factories for. Separately, Qualcomm and Apple had a cooperation agreement under which Qualcomm would pay Apple a rebate on the iPhone patent payments if Apple agreed not to attack in court or with regulators. In a lawsuit filed two years ago, Apple sued Qualcomm, alleging that the chip supplier had broken the cooperation agreement by not paying nearly $1 billion in patent royalty rebates."

Apple instructed the contract factories to quit paying the royalties to Qualcomm offset the missing rebates.

"Qualcomm in turn alleged that it stopped paying the rebate payments because Apple had broken the agreement by urging other smartphone makers to complain to regulators and making “false and misleading” statements to the Korean Fair Trade Commission, which was investigating Qualcomm over antitrust allegations. Apple responded that it was making lawful responses to regulators in an ongoing investigation."

So mobile computing patent war continues global, and expensive. For now the court has sided with Apple so maybe settlement would be smart especially as Intel moves into position with another source of mobile chips.

For details see U.S. judge rules Qualcomm owes Apple nearly $1 billion rebate payment

Copyright © 2019 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.