Network Devices, Related Software and Components Thereof (I), 337-TA-944 (ITC March 2, 2016, Order) (Shaw, ALJ)
Monday, March 14, 2016
Network Communications Patents Not Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101
Following an evidentiary hearing, the ALJ found that two asserted network communications patents were not invalid for lack of patentable subject matter because the claims were not directed to an abstract idea and they contained an inventive concept. "The Private VLAN Patents are not directed to an abstract idea, but rather to a specific device, namely a switch or a router, configured in a specific way to have new types of ports and new types of VLANs in order to isolate users' traffic. The claims all recite a switch or router comprising a VLAN, which is a definite structure. . . . Far from being the types of claims that present issues under Section 101, the Private VLAN Patents do not claim an algorithm or computerize an approach that was implemented manually in the prior art, but rather claim a new, specific and useful device to solve a problem that existed in the networking field in the prior art. . . . [T]he Private VLAN Patents solved the problem in the prior art of separating users' traffic on a LAN. . . . All the asserted claims, therefore, require special purpose devices, and not routine or conventional structures, such as switches and routers with specific defined structures that implement the new types of ports and new types of VLANs, and which transform the networking device into a special purpose machine that can enforce the private VLAN mechanism."