Patent Riffs and Links for 8-16-17 – Visual Memory Commentary

Cache Data Types: Patent Eligibility | PATENTLYO
Reliance on “benefits”: “As in those cases [Enfish, Thales], the court here looked to the specification to find particular technological improvements that underlay the invention. Here, for instance “[t]he specification explains that multiple benefits flow from the ’740 patent’s improved memory system.” [] Judge Hughes dissent agrees that the key inventive element is that the claims require the potential for a change in the type of data stored in cache depending upon the processor connected. However, Judge Hughes points out that the claims do not spell out details of that process but rather “the patent lacks details about how” this so-called inventive element is actually achieved.”

Federal Circuit says computer memory system claims patent eligible, not abstract | IPWATCHDOG
Memory systems: “The ’740 patent teaches that computer systems at the time of filing frequently used a three tiers of memory to enhance performance – low speed, medium speed and high-speed memory. The high-speed memory acts as the processor cache and is expensive in comparison to the low and medium speed memory. A three-tier memory hierarchy alleviates the limitations imposed by the cache’s size limits because it allows code and non-code data to be transferred from the main memory to the cache during operation. Replacement algorithms determine which data should be transferred from the main memory to the cache and which data in the cache should be replaced. This types of prior art memory systems lacked versatility because they were optimized for a specific processor.

The invention described in the ‘740 patent overcame the limitations of the prior art by creating a memory system having programmable characteristics, which would allow it to be used with multiple different processors without any reduction in performance.”

District Court Finding of Ineligible Subject Matter Reversed in VISUAL MEMORY LLC v. NVIDIA CORPORATION August 15, 2017 | NATLAWREVIEW
No panel wants to say too much on what ‘abstract’ means: “With these guideposts in mind, and cognizant of the difficulty inherent in delineating the contours of an abstract idea, the Federal Circuit found that the ’740 patent claims demonstrates that they are directed to an improved computer memory system, not to the abstract idea of categorical data storage. For example, the court pointed out that “[c]laim 1 requires a memory system “having one or more programmable operational characteristics, said characteristics being defined through configuration by said computer based on the type of said processor,” and “determin[ing] a type of data stored by said cache.” ’740 patent col. 6 ll. 29–38.”

Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2017) | PATENTDOCS.ORG
The fact-finder and the spec: “Ultimately, the majority and the dissent are talking past each other, as their disagreement is about whether any of the specification should be read into the claims. The majority answers that question in the positive, because under Rule 12(b)(6) all factual inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. The dissent does not explicitly address the procedural posture.

Regardless, this case once again reminds us that when dealing with a § 101 contention, what is said in the specification is important. Of further importance is whether a finder of fact is willing to consider the totality of the claim language and the specification’s disclosure in the Alice analysis. The answers to these questions often determine the outcome of the § 101 inquiry, even at the Federal Circuit.”

Testing a Patent Claim against an Abstract Idea, in Response to 35 USC §101 Rejection | IPWATCHDOG
Practice pointer from Christopher Hall; posted prior to VM case: “One promising approach is to argue that the claims are directed to a specific technological solution to a specific technological problem, as has been successful in the courts. But, even this may not be convincing, if argued in the abstract, because, after all, we are dealing with abstract ideas to begin with, and it is all too easy for an examiner to dismiss an abstract argument as ‘not convincing’…

This bright line test makes it very difficult for an examiner to prove that the claim is nothing more than an abstract idea implemented on a computer.  The examiner would either have to prove that the additional claim limitations are mere field of use limitations, which assertion is readily refuted through the above analysis, or that the claim as a whole does not solve the specific technological problem, which you have just demonstrated it does.”