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Judge Stark denies defendants’ motion for judgment on pleadings regarding patent-ineligible subject matter

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In Cronos Technologies, LLC v. Expedia, Inc., C.A. Nos. 13-1538, 13-1541, 13-544-LPS (D. Del. Sept. 8, 2015), Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark denied defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), which sought to invalidate certain claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,644,110 (the “’110 patent”) for being directed to patent-ineligible subject matter. The ’110 patent discloses methods and systems for “remote ordering of products.” Id. at 1. Judge Stark observed that despite challenging the validity of 12 claims, defendants’ analysis was “directed almost exclusively to [independent method] claim 22,” which defendants contended is “representative of all the asserted claims.” Id. at 4.

Denying defendants’ motion, Judge Stark explained that “[t]here are several considerations relevant to deciding a Rule 12 motion that challenges the patent eligibility of multiple patent claims based on analysis of a single representative claim.” Id. at 4. First, Judge Stark found that defendants “have not adequately articulated why each of claim 22’s dependent claims relates to the same abstract idea purportedly embodied by claim 22; nor have they adequately explained why each of the dependent claims fails to include an inventive concept.” Id. at 5. Defendants also failed to “address the concepts embodied in claim 22 as a whole.” Id. at 6. Judge Stark further observed that “the Court cannot say at this time” that there is no set of facts “that could be proven that would result in the challenged claims being patent-eligible.” Id. at 7. To that end, Judge Stark explained that “[t]here may be a set of facts related to preemption, questions of patentability, and/or whether claim 22 (and its dependent claims) are directed to a technological improvement rather than a generic computer implementation of an abstract idea that prevents the Court from determining that the challenged claims are patent ineligible.” Id.

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