Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Federal Circuit - Packet Intelligence LLC v. NetScout Systems, Inc. - Claims Patent Eligible under 35 USC 101

In Packet Intelligence LLC v. NetScout Systems, Inc., the Federal Circuit held claims patent eligible under 35 USC § 101.

Athough Packet Intelligence alleged infringement of three US patents, the patent eligibility issue was analyzed using representative claim 19 of US Patent No. 6,954,789:

19.  A packet monitor for examining packets passing through a connection point on a computer network, each packet conforming to one or more protocols, the monitor comprising:

    (a) a packet acquisition device coupled to the connection point and configured to receive packets passing through the connection point;

    (b) an input buffer memory coupled to and configured to accept a packet from the packet acquisition device;

    (c) a parser subsystem coupled to the input buffer memory and including a slicer, the parsing subsystem configured to extract selected portions of the accepted packet and to output a parser record containing the selected portions;

    (d) a memory for storing a database comprising none or more flow-entries for previously encountered conversational flows, each flow-entry identified by identifying information stored in the flow-entry;

    (e) a lookup engine coupled to the output of the parser subsystem and to the flow-entry memory and configured to lookup whether the particular packet whose parser record is output by the parser subsystem has a matching flow-entry, the looking up using at least some of the selected packet portions and determining if the packet is of an existing flow; and

    (f) a flow insertion engine coupled to the flow-entry memory and to the lookup engine and configured to create a flow-entry in the flow-entry database, the flow-entry including identifying information for future packets to be identified with the new flow-entry, the lookup engine configured such that if the packet is of an existing flow, the monitor classifies the packet as belonging to the found existing flow; and if the packet is of a new flow, the flow insertion engine stores a new flow-entry for the new flow in the flow-entry database, including identifying information for future packets to be identified with the new flow-entry, wherein the operation of the parser subsystem depends on one or more of the protocols to which the packet conforms.

The Federal Circuit stated in analyzing patent eligibility, we consider the claim as a whole and read it in light of the specification. The Federal Circuit observed patent-eligibility of computer and network technology often turns on whether claims recite a specific improvement in computer capability or an abstract idea for which computers are merely invoked as a tool.

The Federal Circuit stated that claim 19 was not directed to an abstract idea. Instead, it met a unique challenge to computer networks by describing how to identify disjointed connection flows in a network environment. In other words, the specification presented a new technological solution to a technological problem.

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