Patent Riffs and Links: A Look Back at Trading Technologies v. CQG

The CAFC’s Trading Technologies Intl v. CQG, Inc. (Case No.16-1616) is a non-precedential case, from Jan 13, 2017, where a trading GUI was deemed patent-eligible subject matter. While citing the opinion might fall flat, Judge Newman and the unanimous panel provide case law and logic that may be applicable to your claims.

Trading Technologies: User Interface for Stock Trading | PatentlyO
“The patent claims here cover a computerized method and system used for trading stocks and similar products. When buying and selling stocks, speed and accuracy are both critically important and in this invention, TT created a Graphical-User-Interface design (and operational software) that helps traders buy and sell stock more quickly and more accurately. See U.S. Patents No. 6,772,132 and No. 6,766,304.”

Fed. Circ. Finds Trading Patents Survive Alice In $16M Case | Law360
“Trading Technologies sued numerous companies in the financial industry over the patents, and while many other defendants settled, CQG took the case to trial, which led to the March 2015 verdict…
The patents cover a system for electronically trading stocks and bonds in a way that reduces the time it takes to place a trade. The patents state that they are designed to solve problems that occur when a trader attempts to enter an order at a particular price but misses the price because of rapid market movement…Specifically, the patents cover a trading system that uses a graphical user interface that dynamically displays bid and asked prices. CQG argued that the patents are invalid because they cover well-known trading concepts and simply describe displaying market information in a grid…The Federal Circuit disagreed, writing that Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of the Northern District of Illinois correctly held that because the patents “require a specific, structured graphical user interface” and prescribed functionality related to the interface, they are not directed to abstract ideas.”

CAFC finds graphical user interface patent claims eligible… | IPWatchdog
“In applying the first step of the Alice two-step framework (sometimes referred to as Step 2A), the district court determined that the patents solve problems with prior GUI devices in the computerized trading area, specifically improving speed, accuracy and usability. The district court explained in its decision that the patents did not merely claim displaying information on a graphical user interface, but rather required a specific structured interface in order to address and resolve a specifically identified problem. Thus, the district court found that the claims were patent eligible without need to go on to the next Alice inquiry. The Federal Circuit completely agreed with the district court’s analysis, but added further that the graphical user interface does not represent a long known idea, which is a threshold criterion of abstract idea ineligibility.”

Alice Tracker: Trading Technologies, Inc. v. CQG, Inc. et al. | Fish & Richardson
At the District Court: “As such, even if this Court found that the patents were directed to an abstract idea, under the second part of the Alice test, this Court finds that at least the “static price axis” element of the patents in suit was an “inventive concept,” which eliminated some problems of prior GUIs relating to speed, accuracy and usability, therefore the patents-in-suit claim patent eligible subject matter under the Alice framework. DDR Holdings, 773 F.3d at 1259. When the elements of the claims of both the ‘304 patent and the ‘132 patent are “taken together as an ordered combination, the claims recite an invention that is not merely the routine or conventional use” of computers or the Internet. DDR Holdings, 773 F.3d at 1259. This Court disagrees with CQG’s assessment of DDR Holdings as inapposite. Instead, this Court finds that because the claims of both the ‘132 patent and the ‘304 patent are “necessarily rooted in computer technology in order to overcome a problem specifically arising in the realm of” computers, like the asserted claims in DDR Holdings, the claims here satisfy the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 101. See 773 F.3d at 1257.”

Trading Technologies v. CQG: Federal Circuit Gets One Right On Software Patents | CPIP

“As described by the law professors’ amicus brief, the defendant’s broad argument about the “abstract idea” exclusion in patent law would eviscerate the patent system. Any invention can be described at a high level of abstraction, and thus an overly broad understanding of “abstract idea” would invalidate patents on thousands of legitimate patents on valid inventions, such as the telephone, GPS, typewriters, and optical discs. In this case, the court properly recognized that this framing of the “abstract idea” rule in patent law necessarily incorrect. Hopefully, this decision will stem the tide of massive invalidations of patented innovation, as more courts recognize the value in software inventions and that patents are important for promoting and securing this innovation.”


“While it is not expected that the Federal Circuit will produce a perfectly equal distribution of eligible and ineligible outcomes, the case law cannot develop adequately by negative examples alone. Put another way, it is not sufficient for this court to articulate what a patentee can not claim: the law needs guideposts for what can be claimed. This is particularly true in regards to the Alice test, which has been characterized as “I know it when I see it.” McRO, Inc. v. Activision Pub., Inc., No. CV 14-336-GW FFMX, 2014 WL 4759953, at *5 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 22, 2014). Or more simply: patent examiners and the district courts only know it when the Federal Circuit sees it. Thus, without Federal Circuit approved examples of eligible subject matter in a wide array of technology types, examiners and district courts are simply less likely to find eligible subject matter in these cases before them.”