Argument Preview

As we reported yesterday, three cases being argued in February at the Federal Circuit attracted amicus briefs. One of those cases is Realtime Data LLC v. Array Networks Inc., a patent case. In this case, the Federal Circuit will review a determination by a district court that Realtime’s patents are directed to an abstract idea and lack inventive concept and are thus invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. This is our argument preview.

Realtime, in its opening brief, first argues the asserted patent claims “are directed to methods and systems for digital data compression and are aimed at solving known problems in conventional data compression systems.” Further, it asserts, “[t]he claims are directed to specific improvements in computer functionality and thus are not abstract.” Realtime then argues “the district court oversimplified the claims and disregarded key aspects of the claims that the specification makes clear are important parts of the claimed advances in digital data compression,” causing the district court “to reach the erroneous conclusion that the claims are directed to ‘information processing.'” Finally, Realtime contends the district court also “erroneously concluded that the claims lack inventive concept merely because some of the claim limitations utilize known compression algorithms and generic hardware.” Realtime explains that “the district court failed to consider the claims in light of their respective specifications and claimed advances, and failed to consider the elements of each claim as an ordered combination.”

In its response brief, Array argues Realtime’s patents “fail both steps” of two-part eligibility analysis. Under the first step, Array asserts, “the claims as a whole are directed to abstract ideas involving data compression—namely, analyzing, processing, manipulating, storing, and outputting data,” which “are the types of generalized concepts that this Court has previously found to be ineligible.” Moreover, it contends, the patents “do not claim or teach ‘specific techniques’ that purport to improve computer functionality.” Finally, Array asserts the patents fail step two because “the patents merely claim generic computer components.”

Realtime, in its reply brief, contends that, “in arguing that the claims are directed to an abstract idea, [Array] improperly ignore[s] the patents’ claimed advances, omit key limitations of the claims directed to those claimed advances, and wrongfully assert, contrary to this Court’s precedents, that the improved digital data compression techniques are abstract processes.” Moreover, Realtime contends, “in arguing that the patents lack inventive concept, Defendants improperly focus only on certain purportedly generic limitations in isolation, ignore the limitations aimed at the claimed improvements in digital data compression, and assert, without any evidence or authority, that the claimed techniques were ‘wellknown’ and understood at the time of the inventions.”

Veritas Technologies filed an amicus brief in favor of Array. In it, Veritas argues that Realtime “has broadly and indiscriminately asserted the patents on appeal across numerous industries, products, and services in an effort to monopolize the use of data compression in today’s technology industries.” Moreover, it asserts, “[t]he claims recite only routine, conventional, and generic computer components used to carry out their respective abstract ideas—again, as confirmed by Realtime’s wholesale assertion against entire industries.”

This case will be argued on Friday, February 10. We will report on any developments.