Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corporation, 1-15-cv-00789 (DED May 27, 2016, Order) (Andrews, J.)
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Computer Memory Hierarchy Patent Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101 Despite Enfish
The court granted defendant's motion to dismiss because the asserted claims of plaintiff’s computer memory hierarchy patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims were directed toward an abstract idea. "[T]he claims are directed to the abstract idea of categorical data storage. Humans have categorized data for many years. . . . This is an 'undisputably well-known' practice that 'humans have always performed.' . . . Courts have routinely found that similar claims are directed to abstract ideas. . . . Plaintiff relies on the Federal Circuit's recent decision in [Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., (Fed. Cir. May 12, 2016)] for the proposition that claims which 'improve the functioning of a computer itself' are patent eligible. . . . [H]owever, the question of whether a given claim 'improve[s] the way a computer [works]' is not, by itself, determinative. . . . [Enfish] described the central question as 'whether the focus of the claims is on the specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities (i.e., the self-referential table for a computer database) or, instead, on a process that qualifies as an 'abstract idea' for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.' . . . Enfish is thus best understood as a case which cautions against oversimplification during step one of Mayo/Alice, rather than a case which exempts from § 101 scrutiny all patents which purport to improve the functioning of a computer. . . . Here, there is no analog to the 'specific type of data structure' that was found sufficiently un-abstract in Enfish. Although the claims 'touch on what is asserted to be an improvement to . . . computer capabilities,' they are not 'directed to a 'specific' or 'concrete' improvement in the way software operates,' but instead are 'directed to . . . the mere idea of' categorical data storage."