The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas recently granted a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss a patent infringement suit on the basis that the asserted claims are directed to ineligible subject matter under the two-step test recently reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). Reportedly, one effect of the ruling was to dispose of 168 patent cases pursued by the same Plaintiff, asserting the same claims against separate Defendants. The Court has also requested briefing on an award of attorney’s fees.
The Plaintiff in the affected cases is eDekka, LLC, one of the most active patent litigants in recent years. The asserted claims broadly cover methods and apparatus for storing and labeling information. The Court found that the claims were directed to an abstact idea, which is ineligible for patent protection. The Court utilized the two-step test most recently articulated by the Supreme Court in Alice v. CLS Bank to find that no inventive concept exists that transforms the claims from abstract idea into a patent-eligible concept.
The Court has also asked for briefing on whether the case should be deemed exceptional under the patent laws, such that attorney’s fees may be awarded for filing objectively baseless patent claims in bad faith. The Eastern District of Texas has not, historically, awarded such fees with regularity, but this is the first time that the Court has been presented with such a case in the wake of Alice. The attorney’s fees for 168 patent infringement lawsuits would likely be a substantial amount.