In a recent memorandum opinion, Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark denied a motion to invalidate under § 101 the plaintiff’s U.S. Patent No. 5,987,610 (“Computer virus screening methods and systems”). Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corp., et al., C.A. No. 10-1067 (D. Del. Apr. 22, 2015). The Court found that the ’610 patent (unlike the other two patents at issue in the motion) was “Internet-centric” – the “key idea of the patent is that virus detection can take place remotely between two entities in a telephone network,” and “[c]laims that purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself or effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field may be patentable under § 101.” (emphasis in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court rejected the defendants’ arguments that the patent was akin to “observing individuals for signs of intoxication, reading wartime correspondence, or asking someone if she is having an emergency.” The Court added that the ’610 patent did not claim an abstract idea because “[t]he concept of detecting a computer virus in installed data (and doing so in a telephone network) does not make sense outside of a computer context.”
However, the Court granted the motion to invalidate two other asserted patents, U.S. Patents. No. 6,460,040 (“Distributed content identification system”) and 6,073,142 (“Automated post office based rule analysis of e-mail messages and other data objects for controlled distribution in network environments”), under § 101. The Court agreed with the defendants that both patents claimed methods that were abstract ideas capable of being performed by humans and “are not necessarily rooted in computer technology.” The Court further found that the methods lacked any inventive concept that could salvage patent eligibility.