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The Internet use is not sufficient to save otherwise abstract claims from ineligibility under 35 U.S.C.S. § 101. Narrowing the abstract idea of using advertising as a currency to the Internet is an attempt to limit the use of the abstract idea to a particular technological environment, which is insufficient to save a claim. Given the prevalence of the Internet, the implementation of an abstract idea on the Internet is not sufficient to provide any practical assurance that the process is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the abstract idea itself.
Plaintiff Ultramercial owned the '545 patent directed to a method for distributing copyrighted media products over the Internet where the consumer receives a copyrighted media product at no cost in exchange for viewing an advertisement, and the advertiser pays for the copyrighted content. Plaintiff sued the defendant, Hulu, LLC, defendant-appellant WildTangent, and YouTube, LLC, alleging infringement of all claims of the '545 patent. Defendant and YouTube were dismissed from the case for reasons we need not concern ourselves with here, but defendant-appellee, WildTangent, moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim arguing that the '545 patent did not claim patent-eligible subject matter. The district court granted the defendant-appellant’s pre-answer motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) without formally construing the claims. Plaintiff timely appealed. The present posture of the case was that plaintiff was again appealing the decision of the US district court.
Did the district court err in granting the defendant-appellant’s argument that the 545 patent did not claim patent-eligible subject matter?
No. The court affirmed the district court decision granting a motion to dismiss.
The court held that concerning a patent directed to a method for distributing copyrighted media products over the Internet where the consumer receives a copyrighted media product at no cost in exchange for viewing an advertisement, and the advertiser pays for the copyrighted content, the patent did not claim patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C.S. § 101 because the patent claims were directed to no more than a patent-ineligible abstract idea and simply instructed the practitioner to implement the abstract idea with routine, conventional activity. Also, the court ruled that under the machine-or-transformation test, the patent’s claims did not transform any article to a different state or thing. While this test was not conclusive, it was a further reason why the patent claims did not contain anything more than conventional steps relating to using advertising as a currency.