CELLSPIN SOFT, INC v. FITBIT, INC

CELLSPIN SOFT, INC v. FITBIT, INC, Appeal Nos. 2018-1817 and 1819-26 (Fed. Cir. June 25, 2019) (Lourie, O’Malley, and Taranto).  Appealed from N.D. Cal. (Judge Rogers).  (Subject Matter Eligibility)

Background:

Cellspin sued nine defendants for infringement of four patents owned by Cellspin.  The four patents all related to connecting a data capture device (e.g., a digital camera) to a mobile device for a user to automatically publish captured content from the data capture device to a website.  The patents describe an improvement over prior devices that required a USB or wired connection between the data capture device and the mobile device.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the claims of the patents are ineligible under 35 U.S.C. §101 because they were merely directed to acquiring, transferring, and publishing data and multimedia content on a website.  The district court agreed and granted the motion to dismiss based on the two-step Alice analysis.  First, the district court agreed that the claims were merely directed to the abstract idea of acquiring, transferring, and publishing data using generic computer hardware.  Second, the district court found that the various claim elements were known and functioned according to their ordinary use.  The district court also held that, unlike Berkheimer, it need not consider whether the combination of elements is inventive at this stage of the proceeding because Berkheimer only applies to a motion for summary judgment, not a motion to dismiss.  Cellspin appealed.

Issue/Holding:

Did the district court err in granting the motion to dismiss and holding that the claims of the patents were ineligible under §101 at the pleadings stage?  (continue reading)

Summary by:  Matt Stanford

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