November 15, 2019

Fed. Cir. Affirms It: Facilitating Cross-Marketing Relationships an Invalid Abstract Idea

Holland & Knight Section 101 Blog
Anthony J. Fuga

On Tuesday, the Federal Circuit affirmed a District of Delaware decision without a written opinion. The Delaware decision, from late 2018, granted LinkedIn's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's patent suit, finding the asserted patent to be an invalid abstract idea.

The asserted patent described a method of creating a reciprocal arrangement between two websites in order to market a first website on a second website. The district court agreed with LinkedIn that the asserted claims were directed to the abstract idea of facilitating cross-marketing relationships.

The claimed methods comprise "two users on two computers opting into a reciprocal linking arrangement and then, through use of a computer database, establishing the reciprocal linking arrangements between the two users such that a link to the first page appears on the second and a link to the second page appears on the first . . . This is a common marketing tactic, and it did not become patent-eligible simply through computer implementation."

At step two of the Alice inquiry, the district court found that the asserted claims were "silent as to any manner in which the improvement actually functions and instead, only claim the desired result." Neither the claims nor the specification explained how "opt-ins are received, how the database works or what type of database is actually used, or how links and identification elements are created or added to the web pages."

While the complaint alleged that the claims resolved technical problems related to the "streamlined process for developing web pages and posting those web pages on the internet," the district court was not persuaded. The complaint's allegations merely recited boilerplate legal conclusions without any supporting facts in the remaining sections of the complaint, in the specification, or in the claims. "The Court is not obligated to accept as true bald assertions, unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, or allegations that are self-evidently false."

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