Hitkansut LLC, et. al. v. USA, 1-12-cv-00303 (COFC February 6, 2017, Order) (Lettow, CFCJ)
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Patent for Changing the Physical Properties of a Structure Through Concurrently Applied Energies Not Ineligible Under 35 U.S.C. § 101
Following a bench trial, the court found that plaintiff's patent for changing the physical properties of a structure by concurrently applying multiple energies did not encompass unpatentable subject matter because the asserted claims were not directed toward a natural law. "Although the asserted claims of the [patent] encompass descriptions of natural laws, such as the mathematical concepts embodied within the Larson-Miller relationship, the government misinterprets the [Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014)] test. The relevant inquiry is not whether the claims encompass ineligible subject matter, but whether the claims are 'directed to' ineligible subject matter. . . . [T]he asserted claims . . . are directed to a new and more efficient method for treating metal parts to change their physical properties, removing, reducing, or affecting (and in a few instances introducing) stresses or other characteristics. While the application of the Larson-Miller relationship may be an abstract idea in some contexts, that is not the case here. . . . Rather than attempting to claim the Larson-Miller relationship itself, the [patent] draws upon the Larson-Miller relationship as a baseline or predicate for applying two energies concurrently above an activation energy of the material to be processed."