March 20, 2023

Storing and Displaying Video is an Abstract Idea

In Hawk Technology Systems, LLC v. Castle Retail, LLC, [2022-1222] (February 17, 2022), the Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit because the asserted patent claims of U.S. Patent No. 10,499,091 on a method of viewing multiple simultaneously displayed and stored video images on a remote viewing device of a video surveillance system were directed to ineligible subject matter and therefore invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The district court concluded that the ’091 patent claims were directed to the abstract idea of “storing and displaying video,” and the Federal Circuit agreed, noting that the claims are similar to those it has found to be directed to abstract ideas. The Court noted that in Adaptive Streaming Inc. v. Netflix, Inc., 836 F. App’x 900, 903 (Fed. Cir. 2020), it held that “encoding and decoding image data and . . . converting formats, including when data is received from one medium and sent along through another, are by themselves abstract ideas.”

While Hawk characterized its invention as a solution to a technical problem in multi-format digital video product systems, the Federal Circuit pointed out that even a specification full of technical details about a physical invention may nonetheless conclude with claims that claim nothing more than the broad law or abstract idea underlying the claims. The claims fail to recite a specific solution to make the alleged improvement— conserving bandwidth while preserving quality—“concrete” and at most recite abstract data manipulation.

At Alice step two, the Federal Circuit said that the district court found that the claims, “read in light of the specification, do not show a technological improvement in video storage and display because the limitations can be implemented using generic computer elements,” and that the “specification and claims do not explain or show how the monitoring and storage is improved, except by using already existing computer and camera technology,” and thus the claims failed at Alice step two. The Federal Circuit agreed.

Again, Hawk argued that the claims recite an inventive solution, but the Federal Circuit said that even if the claims achieved the purported solution, they only use generic functional language to do so and require nothing other than conventional computer and network components operating according to their ordinary functions. The Federal Circuit said that it recognize that the claims include “parameters,” but the claims fail to specify precisely what the parameters are and the parameters at most concern abstract data manipulation image formatting and compression.

The Federal Circuit therefore found that the ’091 patent claims fail to transform the abstract idea into something more and thus fail Alice step two. The Court that held that the ’091 patent is patent ineligible because its claims are directed to an abstract idea and fail to transform that abstract idea into patent-eligible subject matter.



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