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Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

August 15, 2017, Decided

2016-2254

Opinion

 [*1255]  [***1713]   Stoll, Circuit Judge.

Visual Memory, LLC appeals the district court's dismissal of its patent infringement complaint against NVIDIA Corporation. The district court held that Visual Memory's U.S. Patent No. 5,953,740 is drawn to patent-ineligible subject matter, and therefore its complaint failed to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). We conclude instead that the '740 patent claims an improvement to computer memory systems and is not directed to an abstract idea. Accordingly, we reverse the district court and remand for further proceedings.

The '740 patent teaches that computer systems frequently use a three-tiered memory hierarchy to enhance performance. [**2]  The three tiers include: 1) a low-cost, low-speed memory, such as a magnetic disk, for bulk  [***1714]  storage of data; 2) a medium-speed memory that serves as the main memory; and 3) an expensive, high-speed memory that acts as a processor cache memory. '740 patent col. 1 ll. 54-64. Because the cache memory is the most expensive, it is typically smaller than the main memory and cannot always store all the data required by the processor. The memory hierarchy alleviates the limitations imposed by the cache's size because it allows code and non-code data1 to be transferred from the main memory to the cache during operation to ensure that the currently executing program has quick access to the required data. Replacement algorithms determine which data should be transferred from the main memory to the cache and which data in the cache should be replaced. As a result, the code and non-code data to be executed by the processor are continually grouped into the cache, thereby facilitating rapid access for the currently executing program.

These prior art memory systems lacked versatility because they were designed and optimized based on the specific type of processor selected for use in that system. Designing a different [**3]  memory system for every processor type is expensive, and substituting any other type of processor into the system would decrease its efficiency. Memory systems could be designed to operate with multiple types of processors, but the design tradeoffs often diminished the performance of one or all of the computers.

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867 F.3d 1253 *; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15187 **; 123 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1712 ***; 2017 WL 3481288

VISUAL MEMORY LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant v. NVIDIA CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware in No. 1:15-cv-00789-RGA, Judge Richard G. Andrews.

Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69543 (D. Del., May 27, 2016)

Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

memory, processor, cache, programmable, abstract idea, patent, specification, inventive, stored, functionality, configuration, recite, data storage, categorical, connected, non-code, subject matter, patent-ineligible, patent-eligible, prior art, technological, generic, self-referential, conventional, buffer, programming, innovative, fast, computer memory, abstraction

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Patent Law, Jurisdiction & Review, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Subject Matter, Claims & Specifications, Specifications, Enablement Requirement