I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but if the Ultramercial, LLC et al. v. Hulu, LLC, et al., decision (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California) (Ultramercial Decision) holds up on review at the Federal Circuit, the Bilski v. Kappos decision may become an unstoppable death star for any computer-related invention that hinges on an “abstract idea.”
The inventions at issue (US Patent 7,346,545 — US07346545) are both expressly claimed as methods for distribution of products over the Internet and are clearly and unequivocably limited to use with the Internet, an Internet web site and interactive messages. Although the claim could be more explicit, it would also be reasonable to interpret many of the steps specified in the claims as Internet-implemented. Notwithstanding the express limitations tying the invention to an Internet implementation, the Court found that the claims were not “meaningfully” limited to machine implementation and, accordingly, did not pass muster under the machine prong of the machine or transformation test. The claims also failed the transformation test as well according to the Court.
I think the following passage from the opinion fairly well sums up Judge Klausner’s thinking about the value of limiting claims to computers or computer networks in order to pass the machine test: