We will be discussing two Federal Circuit cases during our weekly SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, July 30, 2012. Brief synopses are presented below.

Rates Tech., Inc. v. Mediatrix Telecom, Inc., Case No. 2011-1384 (Fed. Cir. July 26, 2012) (attached).

In a patent infringement suit related to systems for converting existing telephone systems to voice-over-IP systems, the district court dismissed the case and imposed monetary sanctions against the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s counsel for failing to comply with the court’s repeated orders to respond to defendant’s interrogatory.

The plaintiff’s counsel did not appeal the dismissal of the case.  Rather, the plaintiff’s counsel argued that he should not be sanctioned for failing to provide information that he did not have.  The Federal Circuit pointed out that the magistrate judge had determined that the plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel did have the information sufficient to respond to the interrogatories and that to the extent he lacked information it was because he “failed to take the most basic steps needed to fulfill the plaintiff’s discovery obligations.  Monetary sanctions in the amount of $86,965.81 affirmed.

Bancorp Serv., L.L.C. v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, Case No. 2011-1467 (Fed. Cir. July 26, 2012) (attached).

This case is a patent infringement suit involving two patents disclosing systems and methods for administering and tracking the value of life insurance policies in separate accounts.  The district court held that the patents failed to meet the “machine-or-transformation” test and found that the recited computer components were not necessary for carrying out the patented process.  “[A]lthough it would be inefficient to do so, the steps for tracking, reconciling and administering a life insurance policy with a stable value component can be completed manually.”

The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that a computer-implemented abstract process is ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101 where the computer does not play a significant part in the performance of the claimed invention.  The computer increased efficiency but was not necessary to perform the process.  The Court distinguished this case from its recent CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. case stating that the computer limitations in CLS Bank played a “significant part” in the claimed method.  In this case, however, the computer was just a facilitator to using an abstract concept.

All are invited to join us in our discussion during the SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, July 30, 2012 at Noon in our Westlake Village office. This activity is approved for 1 hour of MCLE credit. If you will be joining us, please RSVP to Noelle Attalla by 9 am Monday morning.