In Idexx Laboratories, Inc., et al. v. Charles River Laboratories, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 15-668-RGA (D. Del. July 1, 2016), Judge Richard G. Andrews denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss due to lack of patentable subject matter under Section 101. The patents-in-suit “are all directed to ” method of determining a presence or absence of an infectious disease in a population of rodents through the use of blood samples placed on collection cards,” and the parties had agreed on a representative claim. Id. at 2, 6 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court concluded that the steps of that claim “are directed to the abstract idea of collecting, analyzing, and reporting results. This well-known abstract idea is not meaningfully different from those found abstract in numerous other cases.” Id. at 7. Looking to recent Federal Circuit case law , the Court further explained that “[t]his case, unlike Enfish, presents a ‘close call about how to characterize what the claims are directed to.’ . . . the representative claim at issue here is not ‘unambiguously’ directed to a specific improvement.  Instead, the abstract idea predominates each step of the claim. Thus, while the claim may implement the abstract idea in a specific and novel way, the ‘character [of the claims] as a whole is directed to excluded subject matter.’  Therefore, I ‘defer . . . consideration of the specific claim limitations’ narrowing effect for step two.'” Id. at 9 (quoting BASCOM Global Internet Servs., Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 2016 WL 3514158, at *5 (Fed. Cir. June 27, 2016); Internet Patents Corp. v. Active Network, Inc., 790 F.3d 1343, 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2015).
Turning then to step 2 of Alice, the Court recognized that some of the patent-eligible elements of the claim did recite no more than known and conventional activity, such as use of blood collection cards. Id. at 10. But an inventive concept still existed when the claims were “examined as an ordered combination of limitations:” “a specific, novel, implementation of the abstract idea of collecting, analyzing, and reporting.” Id. at 10-11. Further, “[t]he advances over the prior art [were] clear.” Id. at 11. While Defendant pointed to specific prior art that allegedly disclosed the relevant limitations, the Court explained that “[w]hile the§ 101 inventive concept analysis is facilitated by considerations analogous to those of §§ 102 and 103, it is not a substitute for those statutory requirements. . . .[the reference’s] teachings, though possibly relevant to a § 103 determination, fail to demonstrate the lack of an inventive concept.” Id. at 12 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).