Verint Systems Inc. et al v. Red Box Recorders Ltd., 1-14-cv-05403 (NYSD December 7, 2016, Order) (Forrest, USDJ)
Friday, December 9, 2016
MSJ of § 101 Ineligibility Denied for Characterizing Patents With "Reductionist Simplicity"
The court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment of invalidity on the ground that plaintiffs’ call center telecommunications patents encompassed unpatentable subject matter because the motion obscured patents' complexity with reductionist simplicity. "[V]irtually any invention could be described as simply addressing that which others long ago addressed . . . This reductionist simplicity may obscure underlying complexity, and it may jeopardize the innovative improvements upon longstanding accomplishments that patents are intended to incent. Patent law protects the builder of a better mousetrap, even if his or her invention could be described as, simply, a mousetrap -- or as a 'method to catch a mouse.' Many recent motions seeking determinations of patent ineligibility suffer from such reductionist simplicity -- from characterizing as simply a mousetrap that which is in fact a better mousetrap. Courts faced with such motions must scrutinize reductive descriptions with great care. It has also become increasingly common for litigants to pursue such judicial rulings, which can be as complex as Markman rulings but without a similar record. . . . [T]he current fad of ineligibility motions in patent cases has, in certain respects, gotten ahead of itself. . . . . [Defendant] presents its argument with the same reductionist simplicity common now in § 101 motions: It argues that all of the inventions claimed can be distilled to a single phrase: 'the abstract idea of processing (i.e., recording, monitoring, analyzing, and/or securing) data and information in telecommunications.'. . . There is, however, significant complexity in the patents obscured by this reductionist simplicity. Whether that complexity is novel or obvious is not at issue on this motion. Rather, the two questions properly addressed here are: (1) whether the patents simply claim an abstract concept (they do not); and (2) whether, even if they do, they are sufficiently inventive to be patentable nonetheless (most are)."